An allergy is the body’s immune system trying to fight off something that it mistakenly believes is harmful to the body. Allergy to alcohol could be the intolerance (a condition in which the body cannot break down the liquor) or an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in the beverage (such as wheat, yeast, grapes, corn, histamine, sulfites, or artificial colors or flavorings). The following article provides information on the symptoms and treatment of this condition.
Allergies to alcohol can be an unpleasant experience. Ideally, the body produces enzymes to break down the food consumed, so it could be fully absorbed. Once the liquor is consumed, it is able to enter the blood straight away. An enzyme called Aldehyde Dehydrogenase (ALDH2), breaks it down into vinegar (acetic acid) in the liver. However, for some people, enough ALDH2 is not produced by their body. In such cases, the liquor remains in the system itself. Unless liquor is broken down, it is toxic to our body, and an immediate immune response is triggered causing symptoms typical to an allergic reaction.
Different symptoms are likely to be experienced by the affected individual in response to certain ingredients in alcohol:
- A person with an ALDH2 deficiency will usually experience flushing, nausea, and rapid heartbeat.
- A person intolerant to sulfites may experience hives or anaphylaxis.
- A person intolerant to histamines may experience nasal swelling and congestion.
- Liquor high in sulfates may increase the symptoms of asthma.
- Liquor may increase the reaction to food allergies.
Additionally, any of the symptoms given below could be observed:
Some people may observe drying up of the nasal passage after liquor consumption; this may increase the risk of inflammation in the nose.
The face or the body of the person may flush after consumption of liquor. This happens due to accumulation of acetaldehyde (a product present in liquor). This is common in the Asians, and is also known as Asian Red or Asian Glow. In severe cases, the skin can become warm, red, and itchy.
Consumption of ethanol (a type of liquor), may immediately affect the blood vessels. The blood vessels in the brain may dilate, thereby leading to headaches. In worst cases, this dilation can also lead to migraines. It’s best to refrain from drinking, if such headaches occur frequently.
Vomiting is caused due to liquor poisoning. The body reacts to the toxins in the beverage, which leads to vomiting. It may also result in choking of the respiratory function. This condition can lead to severe consequences like slipping into coma, brain damage, and in worst cases, death of the person.
Consumption of liquor leads to atrial fibrillation resulting in increased heartbeats, palpitations and heart flutters. This in turn increases the risk of heart attacks.
Apart from these, the person affected by an allergic reaction to alcohol may also experience nausea, lightheadedness, severe coughing, heartburn, severe pain, loss of consciousness, etc.
The only way to avoid this condition is to avoid liquor. This condition can be detected with the help of some skin and allergy tests. These tests will determine the seriousness of the condition. Liquor testing may also be recommended for further diagnoses. Once the allergy is detected, the medical practitioner will decide the course of treatment accordingly. The practitioner might also suggest liquor detoxification. It would be best to seek medical assistance immediately, once the symptoms are apparent.
Disclaimer: This WellnessKeen article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.