Can You Be Intolerant To Alcohol?

Can You Be Intolerant To Alcohol
Causes – Alcohol intolerance occurs when your body doesn’t have the proper enzymes to break down (metabolize) the toxins in alcohol. This is caused by inherited (genetic) traits most often found in Asians. Other ingredients commonly found in alcoholic beverages, especially in beer or wine, can cause intolerance reactions. These include:

Sulfites or other preservatives Chemicals, grains or other ingredients Histamine, a byproduct of fermentation or brewing

In some cases, reactions can be triggered by a true allergy to a grain such as corn, wheat or rye or to another substance in alcoholic beverages. Rarely, severe pain after drinking alcohol is a sign of a more serious disorder, such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Why is my body rejecting alcohol?

Causes – Alcohol intolerance occurs when your body doesn’t have the proper enzymes to break down (metabolize) the toxins in alcohol. This is caused by inherited (genetic) traits most often found in Asians. Other ingredients commonly found in alcoholic beverages, especially in beer or wine, can cause intolerance reactions. These include:

Sulfites or other preservatives Chemicals, grains or other ingredients Histamine, a byproduct of fermentation or brewing

In some cases, reactions can be triggered by a true allergy to a grain such as corn, wheat or rye or to another substance in alcoholic beverages. Rarely, severe pain after drinking alcohol is a sign of a more serious disorder, such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

What happens if you drink with alcohol intolerance?

Coping With Alcohol Intolerance – Alcohol intolerance is a metabolic disorder that has no cure. While its symptoms can be inconvenient and uncomfortable, they are typically not fatal. The condition is also genetically inherited, which means there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. There are, however, tips that can help you cope with this condition:

  • Cut out alcohol completely or restrict alcohol consumption to the barest minimum
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while taking medication. While this is a rule of thumb, it’s especially important if you have alcohol intolerance. Taking alcohol with medicine can worsen your symptoms.
  • Quit smoking and avoid secondhand exposure to smoke. Smoking can exacerbate symptoms of alcohol intolerance.
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It’s most advisable to completely quit drinking alcohol if you have alcohol intolerance. It’s a lifelong condition and won’t go away with time. Continuing to consume alcohol, especially in large quantities, could lead to complications such as:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Late-onset Alzheimer’s
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer
  • High blood pressure

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Ärzteblatt DÄG Redaktion Deutsches. Prevalence of wine intolerance (22.06.2012). Deutsches Rzteblatt.
  2. Cleveland Clinic. Alcohol intolerance: symptoms, tests & alcohol allergy, August 24, 2020
  3. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Alcohol Metabolism: An Update. April 2007
  4. Peng Y, Shi H, Qi X bin, et al. The ADH1B Arg47His polymorphism in East Asian populations and expansion of rice domestication in history, BMC Evolutionary Biology.2010;10(1):15.
  5. Vally H, Thompson P. Allergic and asthmatic reactions to alcoholic drinks, Addiction Biology.2003;8(1):3-11.
  6. Atkinson K, Austin DE, McElwain TJ, Peckham MJ. Alcohol pain in Hodgkin’s disease. Cancer,1976;37(2):895-899.
  7. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD). Acute alcohol sensitivity. June 26, 2015

By Toketemu Ohwovoriole Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics. Thanks for your feedback!

Is there a way to fix alcohol intolerance?

Treatment – The only way to avoid alcohol intolerance symptoms or an allergic reaction is to avoid alcohol or the particular beverage or ingredients that cause the problem. For a minor reaction, over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines might help reduce symptoms, such as itching or hives.

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What is acetaldehyde syndrome?

Acetaldehyde toxic effects are characterized by facial flushing, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia and hypotension, symptoms known as acetaldehyde syndrome, disulfiram-like reactions or antabuse effects. Severe and even fatal outcomes are reported.

Why does my throat feel like it’s closing up when I drink alcohol?

How does alcohol cause throat problems? – Some of the throat related problems caused by alcohol include:

Inflammation and swelling of the throat, which is caused by the alcohol irritating the throat lining. Laryngopharyngeal reflux- Acid and enzymes from the stomach rising to the throat, which happens due to alcohol causing the valve at the bottom of the gullet to relax. Direct damage to the lining of the throat, mouth and oesophagus. Formation of acetaldehyde, a chemical which can cause brain problems and damage throat tissues, potentially causing cancer to develop.

Can sudden alcohol intolerance go away?

How long will I have alcohol intolerance? – Alcohol intolerance is a lifelong condition. It won’t go away, but by taking some precautions, you can avoid the symptoms and enjoy a healthy, active life.

How do I get rid of sudden onset of alcohol intolerance?

Treatment – The only way to avoid alcohol intolerance symptoms or an allergic reaction is to avoid alcohol or the particular beverage or ingredients that cause the problem. For a minor reaction, over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines might help reduce symptoms, such as itching or hives.

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