The two most common symptoms are a blocked or runny nose, and facial flushing. The flushing happens when your face, neck, or chest become red and warm after drinking alcohol.
Other symptoms include:
It mainly happens when your body has a problem with breaking down alcohol properly. This can happen because of:
You may also have an intolerance if your body is reacting to other ingredients in the alcohol, such as:
Your risk of having alcohol intolerance is increased if:
Sometimes the two are confused. However, these are two very different reactions to alcohol.
We’ve learnt that an intolerance is caused by an issue with breaking down the alcohol. Alcohol is by its very nature a poison, so it needs to be metabolised by the ALDH2 enzyme in the liver in order to make it inactive and no longer toxic. If the ALDH2 enzyme is not working properly, or you don’t have enough of it, then the toxic alcohol builds up in your blood and tissues and causes the symptoms of alcohol intolerance. The symptoms can be mild or moderate, and come on immediately after drinking.
An allergy to alcohol is caused by an immune reaction to one of the ingredients in alcohol. You may be allergic to the grains used to make the alcohol, or to a chemical or preservative in the alcohol. The symptoms of alcohol allergy are often more uncomfortable and severe than an alcohol intolerance. Although rare, an alcohol allergy can even be life-threatening if left untreated.
The symptoms of alcohol allergy include:
If you have symptoms of alcohol allergy, seek immediate medical attention.
To summarise, today we’ve looked at alcohol intolerances and how it may be affecting you. We explored a range of things that can lead to alcohol intolerance, as well as various factors that can increase your risk of developing an intolerance to alcohol. We then compared alcohol intolerance to having an alcohol allergy and learnt that the causes and symptoms of these two reactions are very different. Lastly, we looked at how you can get an alcohol intolerance test online HERE.