Can someone be allergic to alcohol and how would I know?
Yes it is the possible but like any allergy it can be complicated. After all it could be for various reasons like the alcohol itself or the ingredients of alcohol. It is rare to be allergic to alcohol free. It depends on the contents though as alcohol rarely exists in a bubble!
You can actually have an allergy to all sorts of things. In fact, I have known people to have reactions to both events and people, although in the true sense of the word we are looking at the body’s perceived reaction so the bringing in of so called “aliens” to our system. Something that the body can’t work out if it is a friend or foe!
It is when pollen and nuts are often talked about and can in some circumstances it can be very deadly.
A pure allergic reaction to alcohol is generally very rare but an “intolerance” to it is not so rare. We are dealing with a poison effectively being inserted into the body. Yet are surprised that we often have the reaction to it. Alcohol is not that nice in what it does to us.
Remember if you have had a skinful of alcohol, your head is over the bowl and you are throwing up violently you could have alcohol poisoning so your body is reacting to that and that is not really alcohol intolerance or an allergy.
Bottom line you have had too much to drink! Sorry!
Alcohol is everywhere
In fact it is one of the reasons why this blog exists to give more choice to alcohol alternatives and that may be face cream or wine.
You would be surprised how many of our desserts have alcohol in them for example.
And yes I get it alcohol is a key part of everyday lives and in moderation of course, it is great. However, we just never know the effect it can have and it is a poison and we should never forget that .
Many people can have a reaction to the ingredients not just the alcohol and we need to be fair on that one. Just be aware of dutch courage!
It is difficult to deal with many aspects of an alcohol world if you don’t drink or have to avoid alcohol for various reasons especially lifestyle or health.
I know that I had a massive reaction to alcohol as a wine drinker which left me with 48 hours to live but I am here to tell the tale. Too much wine, an allergy, intolerance, stress genes, who knows, so let’s deal with what we do know through my own experience.
Are you alcohol intolerant or do you have an allergy.
This is kind of multi million pound dollar question. Sometimes we just don’t know, it’s a bit like my liver. However, from talking with the experts, something that is common is that many people seek out for an alcohol allergy when really they are alcohol intolerant.
It can be a result of our genetics as individuals and our internal system just can’t process the alcohol so it’s just not broken down properly.
I guess a bit like wheat issues. Makes sense right?
So a symptom is different to a cause. Yet many of us confuse the two.
I always think of symptoms as sticking plasters on a wound and the cause is why we got the cut in the first place. It is one of my favorite analogies.
Here are some flags but there may be more!
- Your blood pressure is low as opposed to what we normally worry about which is high and remember prolonged alcohol use can cause high blood pressure but this is different
- If you have asthma this can get worse so your breathing can become more difficult.
- You feel sick and again this is different to having loads of alcohol and wanting to puke your guts up.
- You might actually be sick and this can be even with a small amount of alcohol .
- Diarrhoea – you get the idea, I don’t need to go into details!
- Your face becomes very RED although this can be associated with long term drinking ( or you are just very angry )
Remember beer and wine can have all sorts of ingredients linked to intolerance so it could be something other than alcohol so an intolerance to histamine, certain chemicals the various forms of grains, hops, wheat and good old “sulfites”.
Food and drink can also have a great deal of “e numbers” that are present in all products not just alcoholic drinks as they act as preservatives.
They don’t agree with everyone.
It’s easy for us to sit here thinking about what is causing your alcohol related symptoms. However, the only way to know for certain about what is causing your intolerance or allergy is to see your local doctor or specialist health professional so that they can do some tests.
They are even done in some local chemists or pharmacists but discussing your symptoms with your doctor should be your first point of content to rule out potential other causes.
It may be alcohol related or something different and there is always a clue when it comes to alcohol. How much you drink is a good place to start.
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Is an allergy to alcohol different from intolerance then?
According to doctors an allergy to your big glass of dry white wine is actually quite rare, I was surprised at that to be honest.
An allergy can occur when our lovely immune system that is designed to keep us safe “over responds” to something that on the face of it could be harmless. Of course alcohol never is but let’s keep to the science.
So the best example I had recently was cleaning fluid that my system interpreted as dangerous both on the skin and the smell on the train which was really full on.
My face swelled up and I could hardly see through one of my eyes. Not nice!
Ironically the thing designed to keep me safe was causing the production of antibodies in my system to fight off this supposed evil.
It is why many people who read this blog talk about skin reactions to alcohol and you can read my review of alcohol free moisturizer here.
Alcohol is not great for the skin regardless as it dehydrates.
Use an avocado instead but check your are not allergic to that first ! I am good on legal speak!
If it is an actual allergy then the symptoms can be mild to itching or a rash to severe breathing problems and if this occurs call the emergency services straight away. Hopefully if you have had a test you will know what to stay away from.
Of course, it may not be the alcohol but what is added to drink or cosmetics. Just look on the ingredients of alcoholic drink and non alcohol drinks to be fair and you will find:
- E numbers
What does this mean for alcohol free drinks?
Alcohol free can have an amazing effect on your lifestyle especially if you feel the pressure to drink, have to give up because of health reasons and of course, it may be that you just want a healthy lifestyle.
Not everyone drinks alcohol!
I have learned since I gave up alcohol that people can be more judgmental about not drinking then drinking. Of course because the effect alcohol had on my body had to give up. However, you would be surprised how many people say “go on one won’t harm!” Really?
However, if you have an intolerance to alcohol or an allergy be careful as some products even orange juice can have a trace of alcohol. In either case get medical advice but you are looking at 0.0 options ideally with no trace.
Again it depends on how bad your intolerance is. There is plenty of alcohol 0.0 abv products out there but always check the label and get advice.
There are now vegan beers which is a great thing but bear in mid just because it is alcohol free 100 percent it could still contain other ingredients that you need to be careful of. Its complex this alcohol stuff.
So the best advice would be to always take the same approach to alcohol free as you would any product with an intolerance or an allergy if even the latter is quite rare.
However, with good medical advice alcohol free could be a great way to go.
What if I drink a lot is that an intolerance?
No I am afraid you are kidding yourself here, nice try though.
The body’s reaction to too much alcohol is the same as anyone who drinks too much, it can cause vomiting, bad stomach, brain fog and high blood pressure. An overdose of alcohol is probably more likely to kill you than any mild intolerance.
Alcohol intolerance and an allergy can be real but best not make it something it is not. This includes:
- Drinking over the recommended units per week
- Saving your units for one night only
- Always waking up with a hangover
- Getting brain fog
I would love to hear your thoughts?
Do you have any intolerance to alcohol and what did you do about it? Have you tried to pass off too much drinking as an intolerance. Go on admit it? If you have been tested for food intolerance for alcohol I would love to hear how easy it was to get a test done and what have you changed as a result?
I always reply to all your comments.