Alcohol Intolerance: Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Avoid the beverage or beverages that seem to cause your reaction until your doctor’s appointment. Your symptoms, including any that seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment, and when they occur. Drinking a small amount can help people feel relaxed, but too much, too often, can be harmful for health. Alcoholic beverages are made from complex mixtures of grains, chemicals, and preservatives that your body needs to break down. For Lisa, there’s nothing better than an ice-cold drink after a rough day (she’s not fussy). But she also likes to get a bit fancy every now and then.

Normally your body produces an enzyme called diamine oxidase to break histamine down. If your body doesn’t produce enough active DAO, you may react to histamine in foods and beverages. Smoking can exacerbate symptoms of alcohol intolerance. If you or someone you know Sober House is struggling with alcohol addiction in addition to alcohol intolerance, it’s essential to seek treatment. Enrolling in an alcohol treatment program is the first step to recovery. The most effective treatment is to avoid alcohol and alcohol-based foods altogether.

Is alcohol intolerance the same as an alcohol allergy?

In most people, this substance causes a skin response. If you don’t react to histamine, your allergy skin test may not reveal an allergy even if you have one. This type of testing uses needles that barely penetrate the skin’s surface. You won’t bleed or feel more than mild, momentary discomfort. Allergy tests using alcohol are usually negative, but are sometimes positive to breakdown products of ethanol such as acetaldehyde or acetic acid .

Skin tests are generally safe for adults and children of all ages, including infants. In certain circumstances, though, skin tests aren’t recommended. ☝️TIP☝️ If you’ve taken the Atlas DNA Test, you can show them your results for alcohol intolerance too. Skin prick test to check if you have any allergies to substances found in alcohol. Inpatient treatment is the most intensive and effective option for alcohol addiction treatment. If drinking triggers digestive distress, over-the-counter medications are also helpful. If the allergy is linked with a particular type of alcohol component, treatment could be as simple as switching to a different drink. Some people with sulfite intolerance have had success switching to “no sulfites added” wines. In most cases, what appears to be an allergy is intolerance.

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If you’re allergic to another ingredient contained in certain alcoholic products, switching to a different drink might be an option. For example, barley is allergy to alcohol symptoms typically found in beer but not wine. Allergy testing should always be done in a medical setting. In can occasionally trigger a severe allergic reaction.

An allergist is a special type of doctor who focuses on allergic conditions. Symptoms of histamine intolerance are similar to those of an allergic reaction. For example, potential symptoms include red and itchy skin, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. If you have a true alcohol allergy, even small amounts of alcohol can cause symptoms.

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Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics.