The difference between alcohol allergy and alcohol intolerance

June 30, 2022 / Topical / Background

Sometimes drinking alcohol evokes certain physical reactions that are not standard with alcohol consumption. Think, for example, of shortness of breath, palpitations, a runny nose or red eyes. Symptoms that may indicate an alcohol intolerance. In addition, there are people who are allergic to alcohol. You can read about the difference between these two conditions here.

'I can't stand alcohol anymore' is a frequently heard phrase. The fact that your hangovers are getting worse often has to do with getting older. Because it is a fact that the older you get, the worse the hangovers to be. But there is a group that experiences problems on a different level from drinking alcohol. This group can be divided into two subgroups: people who are alcohol intolerant and people who have an alcohol allergy.

What is alcohol intolerance?

Suppose you are visiting someone and you drink a glass of alcohol. Not much later you start blushing profusely, you get a runny nose, you suffer from shortness of breath, dizziness or palpitations. Then you could be intolerant to alcohol. Such an alcohol intolerance can manifest itself immediately or only the next day. Then you will suffer from a very strong hangover afterwards, including diarrhea, nausea and headache. People with an alcohol intolerance cannot break down alcohol due to a genetic cause. So you can't tolerate alcohol and get sick if you drink it.

What is alcohol allergy?

An alcohol allergy is an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in alcohol. Think, for example, of grapes, barley, yeast, hops, gluten, rye and wheat. An allergic reaction to alcohol occurs when your body does not recognize one or more ingredients. In response, your body makes antibodies. An alcohol allergy can manifest itself as a skin rash, abdominal cramps, wheezing or worse: anaphylaxis (allergic reactions such as weak pulse, nausea, vomiting) and/or loss of consciousness.

In brief

With an alcohol intolerance, the body is unable to break down the alcohol and with an alcohol allergy, your body does not recognize one or more ingredients that are in alcohol. An alcohol intolerance is more common than an alcohol allergy.



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