Four signs you might be allergic to alcohol

February 16, 2018
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It’s Friday night and you’re likely to let down your guard because, well, it’s Friday night!

Drinks are likely to flow like at no other evening, but before you plunge deep into it, it’ll do you a world of good to check these four signs that might tell you if you are allergic to alcohol.

If you start to feel a little weird after drinking, it could mean way more than just a few too many glasses of wine. And if you frequently experience adverse symptoms when drinking alcohol, it could very well mean that you’ve developed an allergic reaction, where your body can’t metabolise it as it should.

What are these four signs? According to Dr. Sonia Batra, a dermatologist and co-host of the television show The Doctors, watch out for the following…

Red, hot skin
If your face is getting sweaty and flushed, it could be the alcohol talking, but if your face turns extremely red, this could indicate an allergic reaction.

“Alcohol opens up blood vessels and increases flushing,” Dr. Batra said. So, it makes sense to get a little heated. Once you start drinking, your body metabolises the alcohol into acetaldehyde.

“But when your body can’t neutralise the acetaldehyde fast enough, the blood capillaries in your face dilate, resulting in further flushing and redness due to histamine release,” she explained.

“And your body might respond negatively to this rise in histamine, which is common in wine and beer. (Especially red wine.)

“At high levels, alcohol actually causes blood vessels to constrict, which temporarily increases blood pressure, she added.

When your body can’t break down the histamine, due to inefficient enzyme capacity, those levels stay elevated, making you red and rashy, and you might even notice a rapid heart rate.

Hives
Hives and bumps can happen, as acetaldehyde can stimulate that histamine release, which your body then reacts poorly to when you have an allergy to alcohol, Dr. Batra said.

What’s more, sensitivity to ingredients in certain alcohols, such as grains, like wheat, barley, and rye, can also cause allergic reactions.

Histamines, which naturally occur in wine, and sulfites, a preservative used in wine, can also trigger allergy and asthma-like symptoms, she said.

“The best way to avoid hives and bumps is to limit drinking or to avoid the specific types of alcohol that trigger the reaction,” she said. A cool compress can be applied to settle inflammation. Very rarely, hives can be caused by anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. If you feel your symptoms worsening, stop drinking immediately and see a doctor.

Trouble breathing
Due to the rise in histamines, breathing difficulties and stuffy/runny noses when drinking can happen.

“A histamine intolerance can lead to inflammation in soft tissues, like lungs and nasal passages, which can swell and lead to stuffy nose and sinus pressure,” Dr. Batra said.

“Cold-like symptoms, such as itchy eyes, scratchy throat, and sneezing — are also side effects of a histamine intolerance.”

If you have a preexisting respiratory condition, like asthma, symptoms might worsen due to the level of histamines in alcohol (which can’t be metabolised well).

“Asthma can be exacerbated by these histamines, because of the increased inflammation of airways.”

Diarrhea and nausea
If you have stomach pain and nausea when drinking, don’t be so quick to blame it on that pizza.

“Alcohol can increase stomach acid, irritating the digestive tract,” Dr. Batra said. And when your body can’t break down the alcohol in the body, your digestive system can get out of whack.

“Diarrhoea occurs because drinking can affect the amount of water in your large intestine, and if there is a lot of fluid, stool will pass quicker,” she said.

A tip? “One way to curb diarrhoea is to avoid drinking caffeine with alcohol and to eat easily digestible, plain foods — not the greasy fries you are probably craving.”

(PopSugar)

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