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Can you be allergic to alcohol??

Nurses   (37,412 Views | 8 Replies)
by weetziebat weetziebat (Member)

7,338 Profile Views; 775 Posts

o.k. - i've got a question. i have, on occasion, had a drink of alcohol - usually happens with hard alcohol or wine - and my face will turn beet red and my heart starts pounding. quite unpleasant and lasts for up to an hour. but if i drink beer, sometimes my face turns red, but no pounding heart and if i don't have someone tell me my face is red i wouldn't know there is a problem. most of the time, however, i can drink beer without any adverse affects.

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[color=#483d8b]i know - just don't drink - but it sucks to always be the designated driver and sit there sipping coke while everyone else enjoys a few drinks. i mean, i'd just like to have a couple of beers with friends, for crying out loud!

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[color=#483d8b]did ask my doc but he wasn't much help. suspect he didn't really know cause his answer was a bunch of gobbledy-gook that didn't make much sense.

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[color=#483d8b]so.....just wondering.....(and rambling) .....do you guys think this sounds like an allergy or, as long as i don't mind looking a bit sunburned, do you think it is o.k. to drink beer? :rolleyes: appreciate any and all opinions.

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JBudd has 39 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Trauma, Teaching.

2 Followers; 1 Article; 3,765 Posts; 36,035 Profile Views

If it didn't make sense, you should make him explain until it does. I'd call and ask a food allergist. Good luck!

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VivaLasViejas has 20 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

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Can you be allergic to ETOH? In a word: YES! Some people have allergies to the corn/wheat/hops etc. in beer and other types of liquor, and their symptoms are like yours.....red face, even hives and angioedema. I would advise you to get to an allergist and find out if you truly are allergic BEFORE you take your next alcoholic drink........your life could depend on it.

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135 Posts; 2,731 Profile Views

The only type of alchol I can tolerate is vodka. All others, especially red wine, result in an instant running nose, running itchy eyes, wheezing and in one memorable instant, facial and neck swelling.

I know I have a sensitivity to sodium metabisulphite( a food preservative), which is present in processed meats, sausage meat filler and numerous other things, I think it is the sulphites in the alcohol which set me off, I really should find out, but after the last scare, (which was many years ago now), I just steer clear.

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20 Posts; 1,082 Profile Views

The sulfites in the wine can cause allergic reactions...I would stay away from any alcohol that gives you problems.....

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462 Posts; 5,655 Profile Views

o.k. - i've got a question. i have, on occasion, had a drink of alcohol - usually happens with hard alcohol or wine - and my face will turn beet red and my heart starts pounding. quite unpleasant and lasts for up to an hour. but if i drink beer, sometimes my face turns red, but no pounding heart and if i don't have someone tell me my face is red i wouldn't know there is a problem. most of the time, however, i can drink beer without any adverse affects.

[color=#483d8b]

[color=#483d8b]i know - just don't drink - but it sucks to always be the designated driver and sit there sipping coke while everyone else enjoys a few drinks. i mean, i'd just like to have a couple of beers with friends, for crying out loud!

[color=#483d8b]

[color=#483d8b]did ask my doc but he wasn't much help. suspect he didn't really know cause his answer was a bunch of gobbledy-gook that didn't make much sense.

[color=#483d8b]

[color=#483d8b]so.....just wondering.....(and rambling) .....do you guys think this sounds like an allergy or, as long as i don't mind looking a bit sunburned, do you think it is o.k. to drink beer? :rolleyes: appreciate any and all opinions.

just a guess but couldn't your face be turning red from the blood vessels dialating. i know i looked flushed and feel it too when i am drinking. as for the pounding, some red wines give me migraines (seems to be directly related to cost. cheaper = migraine). which could be the pounding feeling you are feeling.

found this on ask alice but i have no idea who alice is :rolleyes: http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/2327.html

dear wanna drink,

you're probably not the only red one in the bar; as many as 50 percent of people of asian descent experience a flushed complexion after drinking alcohol. alcohol flush reaction, the more technical name, describes the body's inability to break down ingested alcohol completely. you and others like you have an inactive enzyme, aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (aldh2), which is normally responsible for breaking down acetaldehyde, a byproduct of the metabolism of alcohol. acetaldehyde is a toxin and if your body can't break it down, it accumulates and causes flushing. other symptoms you might experience include dizziness, nausea, headaches, and an increased pulse.

scientists don't know why the enzyme is inactive primarily in people of asian descent, but it is genetic and can be passed on by either or both parents. some researchers find that the presence of the mutation can help account for the lower levels of alcoholism in asian communities, since many of the symptoms of alcohol flush reaction discourage people from drinking. there is some evidence that aldh2 is inactive in higher than average levels in people of jewish descent as well.

because it's genetic, there isn't much you can do to prevent your red face. tolerance levels and the severity of flushing and other symptoms vary from individual to individual, so you might want to test how much alcohol it takes before your rosiness becomes noticeable. if your coloring makes you self-conscious, sometimes the room is dark enough that people may not notice. if people do notice, they may think you are warm or excited to see them. you could also explain to any drinking partners why you're turning red, but it's likely they will soon forget about your flushed face.

there is some suspicion that a build up of acetaldehyde can cause cancer, but more research needs to be done before a definitive answer can be given. otherwise, there are no known long-term health consequences resulting from the alcohol flush reaction.

and this is from http://www.intelihealth.com/affil/ih/ihtih?t=8487&c=351738&p=~br%2ccni|~st%2c4464|~r%2cwscni012|~b%2c*|&d=dmtatd

when i have a glass of red wine, my face turns bright red. what causes this?

there are several reasons why your face may turn red after drinking wine. first, many people blush or flush easily. this can be a lifelong habit, and happens more commonly in people with a fair complexion or light-colored hair or eyes. flushing is often triggered by emotional reactions, hot or spicy foods and alcohol.

i suspect you may flush from alcohol in general, rather than just red wine. however, some people may be prone to flushing only with specific foods. asians in particular are prone to flushing with alcohol.

rosacea is a common skin condition that can cause the face to turn red. tiny blood vessels in the skin gradually enlarge and cause sunburnlike redness across the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead. many people with rosacea blush or flush easily, especially after drinking alcohol. this condition cannot be cured, although there are ways to keep it under control. rosacea usually appears between the ages of 30 and 50, so it may explain why someone starts to flush only when they reach middle age.

some women experience flushing as a symptom of menopause. certain medications, such as niacin, also can cause flushing. however, neither of these types of flushing tends to be triggered by alcohol.

lastly, there are a few very rare but medically important conditions that can cause your face to turn bright red after drinking alcohol. be sure to see your doctor if diarrhea, wheezing, or lightheadedness accompanies your flushed face.

hope that helps.

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775 Posts; 7,338 Profile Views

hey guys - just want to say thanks for all your input.

[color=#483d8b]guess i'll break down and go see my allergist. have tons of "allergies" - many of them weird. like not being able to eat any raw fruits or veggies. makes my mouth, throat and inside my ears itch like crazy. so why not alcohol, right?!?

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[color=#483d8b]andrea, that "ask alice" info is fascinating. can show it to my daughter. she has the same reaction to alcohol and her dad is from thailand. sure she'll be glad to know it is common - even if it is a royal pain.

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[color=#483d8b]too bad the liquor store is closed, jax - maybe i can try vodka :rotfl:

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2 Followers; 2 Articles; 2,806 Posts; 41,746 Profile Views

I had a young lady die on us when I was working ICU. She was Asian and allergic to ETOH. No one told her to read labels and she took Nyquil and died about 4 hours later in surgery. The surgeon couldn't even close her up she had so much edema. Really hard thing for her husband and kids. Died because of an OTC med.

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joannep specializes in Community, Renal, OR.

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Hi,

There was a whole program on discovery chanel that explained the intollerance to alcohol that people from an asian background have. It was very interesting, and very real (as zenman's reply shows).

You may be able to find out more information on discovery chanel, or a search through new scientist.

joanne :)

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