April 7th is National Beer Day, but some may not be able to celebrate with a cold one. It is possible to be allergic to beer and other alcohols, but who should worry about an allergic reaction?

Alcohol Intolerance/Allergy:

Alcohol intolerance to beer is possible, and it is not the same as a alcohol allergy. An intolerance occurs when your body does not have the enzymes necessary to breakdown the allergen, in this case alcohol. You can also have an intolerance to the substances in alcohol, such as sulfates, grains, and other chemicals. You could also have an intolerance to histamine, which is a byproduct of the fermentation/brewing process. A true alcohol allergy occurs when your immune system does not recognize a substance and attacks it, creating a reaction such as itchiness. It is possible to have an allergic reaction to the ingredients in the alcoholic beverage, for example grains such as wheat in beer. Severe pain after drinking alcohol can also be a sign of a more serious disorder, such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This is rare and unlikely.

Symptoms and Treatment:

Both an alcohol intolerance and an alcohol allergy can leave you with symptoms. These symptoms can include flushing, hives, itchiness, stuffy or runny nose, difficulty breathing, and nausea and diarrhea. Mild symptoms do not necessarily warrant a trip to an allergist. Simply avoiding the alcohol in question or limit the amount you drink might be the best solution. However, if you are experiencing severe symptoms or serious reactions, such as anaphylaxis, it is important to visit an allergist. An allergist will be able to assist you in pinpointing the allergen causing reactions, and they will be able to provide you with a treatment plan that fits your needs.

If you are worried about an alcohol allergy, you can schedule an appointment with a Board-Certified Allergist at National Allergy & ENT. To schedule an appointment, please call (843) 212-7976 or schedule online.