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Practical info for the smarter drinker

Alcohol Allergies 101

If you’ve ever experienced stomach cramps, difficulty breathing or faintness during or after drinking alcohol, there’s a chance you may have an alcohol allergy.

True alcohol allergies are rare, as most people are actually allergic to one or more of the ingredients used to make alcoholic beverages (like beer and wine), such as barley, hops, yeast, rye, wheat, gluten, histamines, sulfites and preservatives. Common allergic reactions to these ingredients include headaches, nasal congestion, runny nose, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, increased heartrate and rash.

Current research into true alcohol allergies is very limited. Alcohol intolerance is often passed down genetically. According to, aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2) is the enzyme that digests alcohol and turns it into acetic acid or vinegar in the liver. If you have an alcohol allergy, it is likely that you also have a vinegar allergy or an ALDH2 deficiency.

Discovering an alcohol allergy is not always simple, because some of the less severe symptoms include stuffy nose and skin flushing. Many people become flushed after a few drinks, so you may not find this out of the ordinary. However, if the redness is accompanied by pain or lightheadedness, you should stop drinking immediately.

Unfortunately, the only way to avoid the suffering the symptoms of an alcohol allergy is just to avoid drinking. If you’re allergic to barley, then just avoiding beer may do the trick, but there is no replacement or medication that prevents the symptoms. If you think you may have an alcohol allergy but are unsure, talk to your doctor.

Allergic To Alcohol

Legal Stuff: We should remind everyone that our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. If you’re going to drink, do it legally and responsibly; don’t be stupid =).

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