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There is no cure or treatment for alcohol intolerance unless it is due to medication use or a medical condition. For people who have alcohol intolerance due to a medication, stopping the medication will likely resolve the alcohol intolerance. If it is an inherited genetic condition, medical professionals are limited to providing ways to reduce the unpleasant symptoms of alcohol intolerance. If you have an alcohol allergy, your immune system over-reacts to alcohol.

  1. Another type of allergen, lipid transfer protein (LTP), is found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and cereals, and can also be present in some alcoholic drinks.
  2. While there is no cure for this condition, avoiding alcohol helps you stay symptom-free.
  3. However, some people may experience allergy-like reactions after consumption.
  4. Recognizing the difference between these and an alcohol allergy could save a life.

White wine tends to contain higher levels of sulfites than red wine and beer. Alcohol intolerance occurs when your body doesn’t have the proper enzymes to break down (metabolize) the toxins in alcohol. This is caused by inherited (genetic) traits most often found signs of alcoholism in Asians. In a few cases, alcohol intolerance can be a sign of a more serious problem. If you think you have it, talk with your doctor and find out what’s causing it. The doctor may refer the person to an allergy specialist for further testing and treatment.

What’s the difference between alcohol allergy and alcohol intolerance?

Red wine tends to have higher levels of histamine than white wine or beer. Avoid the beverage or beverages that seem to cause your reaction until your doctor’s appointment. The amounts of histamine vary between wines, but generally, there is more histamine in red than white wine.

It is important to seek specialist advice if your suspect some sort of alcohol intolerance, as alcohol intolerance and alcohol allergy are commonly confused and misdiagnosed. In fact, your body might have an inability to process other constituents of alcohol, such as histamine, yeast, grains, sulfites, or preservatives. Alcohol intolerance is different to having a ‘low tolerance’ to alcohol. The latter term is generally used in social settings to describe someone who experiences the effects of drinking alcohol much quicker than others. Although alcohol intolerance usually isn’t a serious issue as long as you don’t drink alcohol, you might want to discuss it with your doctor at your next appointment.

Disease-Induced Alcohol Intolerance

Most cases of suddenly developed alcohol intolerance occur due to starting a new medicine that causes it. Genetic alcohol intolerance will not begin suddenly and will always be present from birth. Too much alcohol affects your speech, muscle coordination and vital centers of your brain. A heavy drinking binge may even cause a life-threatening coma or death. This is of particular concern when you’re taking certain medications that also depress the brain’s function. Because denial is common, you may feel like you don’t have a problem with drinking.

Alcohol Intolerance: Symptoms, Causes and Testing

Alcohol allergy is very rare but allergic reactions can be strong, leading in some cases to anaphylaxis which can be fatal. The symptoms of alcohol allergy can be very similar to alcohol intolerance. Symptoms of an alcohol allergy include rashes, itchiness, swelling and severe stomach cramps. Allergy symptoms are often more painful and uncomfortable than alcohol intolerance symptoms. In rare cases, if untreated, an alcohol allergy can be life-threatening. Alcohol intolerance can cause immediate, uncomfortable reactions after you drink alcohol.

The immediate symptoms of alcohol intolerance will occur right after drinking alcohol. They will typically happen rapidly enough that there is no 35 sobering alcoholism statistics and facts for 2023 question as to if it was the alcohol that caused it or not. Alcohol intolerance is considered a rare disease, meaning it is quite uncommon.


If someone believes they have an alcohol allergy or intolerance, they should stop drinking alcoholic drinks and visit their healthcare provider for testing and advice. People often mistake alcohol allergies for alcohol intolerance. Alcohol intolerance is a rare condition in which your body cannot process alcohol 100 most inspiring addiction recovery quotes correctly, leading to a build-up of a chemical called acetaldehyde. High levels of acetaldehyde are what cause the unpleasant symptoms of alcohol intolerance. It is important to remember that for someone with alcohol intolerance, avoiding alcohol is more than just not drinking alcoholic beverages.

Alcohol Intolerance Treatment

Simply avoid alcohol, limit how much you drink or avoid certain types of alcoholic beverages. Nonalcoholic beverages are a great option if you want to enjoy a drink but mitigate potential stomach issues that alcohol may cause. Try subbing in some of our favorite nonalcoholic drinks and spirits, several of which are low-calorie or low-sugar. If alcohol intolerance is due to a disease or medication use, successfully treating that disease or stopping the medication will often help resolve alcohol intolerance. If alcohol intolerance is due to genetic causes, then no treatment will make it go away.

Sudden onset of symptoms may also be caused by a newly developed intolerance. In rare cases, pain after drinking alcohol might be a sign that you have Hodgkin’s lymphoma. When you drink alcohol, your liver first breaks down alcohol into a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde. Your body uses an enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase, or ALDH2, to break down acetaldehyde. However, in some people, ALDH2 does not work correctly, resulting in alcohol intolerance.

Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2) is an enzyme that your body uses to digest alcohol. It turns alcohol into acetic acid, a main component of vinegar, in your liver. If you have an alcohol allergy, make sure to have epinephrine shots with you at all times and wear a medical ID bracelet that tells health professionals you have an allergy. A skin prick test should take place in a medical setting in case of a severe allergic reaction.

In contrast, an alcohol allergy could become life threatening. If someone has a true allergy to alcohol, they should avoid the substance entirely. People with alcohol intolerance could still consume alcohol, although they will likely experience side effects. “If you have this inherited genetic mutation and you drink alcohol regularly, there’s a greater probability that you can develop these types of cancers of the upper GI tract,” Kuo said.

Recognizing the difference between these and an alcohol allergy could save a life. The best-known condition to cause alcohol intolerance is Hodgkin’s lymphoma; however, other conditions may also cause it. Alcohol intolerance is still normally uncommon in people with these types of conditions.