Alcohol Allergy

Despite its term, alcohol allergy is not a true allergy in the sense that a person’s immune system reacts negatively to the presence of alcohol in the body. What alcohol allergy really is about is that the body doesn’t have the enzymes that can break down the toxins found in alcohol.

Although, some individuals could be allergic to some of the ingredients found in alcohol and therefore they truly are allergic to this concoction.

Alcohol Allergy Symptoms

People who have intolerance to alcohol and those who are allergic to some of the ingredients in alcohol often exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Flushing of the face
  • Hives
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Exacerbation of asthma, if already present in the individual

It’s quite rare for someone to experience anaphylaxis caused by alcohol but those who suspect that they’re allergic to this substance should consult a physician so as to be informed and prepared for such an outcome.

It’s necessary to take note that people of Asian descent are more prone to alcohol intolerance, which is why the term ‘Asian glow’ exists. Asians have a genetic defect wherein their bodies can’t break down the alcohol effectively in the liver. What happens next is that the acetaldehyde, which is a toxic by-product of alcohol, does not break down into a harmless acid (acetic acid) and flows through the blood veins.

The acetaldehyde will then dilate the blood vessels, which will then result to the reddening of the person’s face, neck, shoulders and sometimes the whole body, hence this is where the term ‘Asian glow’ or ‘Asian flush’ comes from.

Apart from blushing and alcohol hives on other portions of one’s body, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, and headaches can also occur. There are some individuals who experience severe pain after drinking alcohol and this could be a sign that they’re suffering from something much more serious, which could be Hodgkin’s lymphoma.


What doctors often advise their patients is to simply avoid avoid or limit alcohol intake. Also, doctors will advise patients to check labels of alcoholic drinks carefully to see if it contains sulphites or grains, which will trigger a reaction.

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