Itching, flushing or diarrhea: Watch out for symptoms of alcohol intolerance

If you feel uncomfortable and experience problems after drinking, you need to watch out for the symptoms of alcohol intolerance.
no alcohol after Diwali
Give up alcohol for a while to give your body a break! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Aayushi Gupta Updated: 19 Oct 2022, 18:49 pm IST
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What’s a party without some binge drinking? But does that tend to make you experience hot flashes, nausea, or itching? Beware as it may be due to an allergy to alcohol. Shocked? Well, alcohol allergy is a toxic reaction to alcohol, or more precisely ethanol. It is just like any other allergy and is sometimes referred to as alcohol sensitivity or alcohol intolerance. Alcohol toxicity is not always caused by an allergy to it, as it can also simply result from excessive alcohol consumption. What if, though, you are intolerant to it? You should be on the lookout for symptoms of alcohol intolerance so that you can be sure about it.

Let’s understand all about alcohol intolerance!

What is alcohol intolerance?

Alcohol intolerance means that certain enzymes in your body are not able to break down alcohol properly, leading to the formation and accumulation of more and more acetaldehyde which leads to side effects.

Health Shots spoke to dietitian Vidhi Chawla of Fisico Diet Clinic, to understand about the symptoms of alcohol intolerance.

What are the symptoms of intolerance to alcohol?

Alcohol intolerance is a genetic disorder and can run in families. Although the specific cause of it is unknown, you can determine whether or not you are intolerant to alcohol by looking at its symptoms. Remember that if you are alcohol intolerant, even a modest amount of alcohol will cause you to experience the below mentioned symptoms of alcohol intolerance.

symptoms of alcohol intolerance
Don’t take dizziness lightly, but don’t panic either. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here are 5 major symptoms of alcohol intolerance

1. Facial redness

The moment you drink alcohol, your face might turn red. This is called an alcohol flush reaction. Somewhere in extreme cases, this might lead to hives, low blood pressure etc. Aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 is the enzyme that helps break down alcohol and formation of more acetaldehyde leads to facial redness. Although it isn’t harmful, it may be a warning sign leading to other issues like greater risk of high blood pressure etc.

2. Nasal congestion

One might be wondering why few people have such a good alcohol tolerance level. But what we need to understand is that alcohol intolerance is a metabolic disorder. Nasal congestion is quite a common symptom of alcohol intolerance and can cause a lot of uneasiness. Beer and wine especially contain a high amount of histamine leading to more stuffy nose. The only way to avoid this is to reduce alcohol or completely avoid it.

3. Nausea and vomiting

One might have experienced that consuming small amounts of alcohol may also lead to making you feel nauseous and not that great. This symptom may last for a few hours to 48 hours too in extreme cases .Alcohol increases gastric acid production which can make you vomit.

symptoms of alcohol intolerance
Feeling nausea may be one of the symptoms of alcohol intolerance. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Diarrhea

If you are suffering from alcohol intolerance, your digestive tract is already sensitive. Having alcohol may increase the irritation as alcohol leads to more acid production and the gastrointestinal tract becomes inflamed leading to diarrhea . This can last from 1 to 3 days. It’s important that you consume enough water and recharge electrolytes.

5. Worsening of asthma

Alcohol contains sensitive substances like histamines which are triggering for people with asthma. If one is suffering from alcohol intolerance, since your body gets very sensitive, histamine can lead to extreme breathing issues and worsen your Asthma.

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symptoms of alcohol intolerance
If you have asthma then you need to be doubly careful. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Whether you’ve only recently noticed these symptoms or have always had them after drinking alcohol, you shouldn’t ignore them if they indicate an alcohol allergy or intolerance.

Treatment for alcohol intolerance

Alcohol intolerance is mostly inherited, hence there is no specific cure for it. The only way to avoid it is to reduce the consumption of alcohol or completely avoid it.

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About the Author

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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