Can You Be Allergic to Alcohol?

Understanding Alcohol Allergies and Alcohol Intolerance

A person can be allergic to alcohol but the actual occurrence of it is somewhat rare.  What is more likely is that someone has developed an alcohol intolerance or that they are allergic to something in alcoholic beverages.  According to Healthline, some potential allergens in alcoholic beverages include:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Hops
  • Yeast
  • Grapes

As with any food allergy, the reaction can range from mild to severe if the substance is swallowed.  Depending on the severity of the allergy and the amount ingested a person could experience a number of symptoms.  In rare cases, a food allergen, whether it is alcohol or an ingredient in the alcoholic drink can cause death.  Anaphylaxis, which can occur within minutes of ingesting an allergen, occurs when your body goes into shock, narrowing your airways and preventing you from breathing. It is uncommon for an alcohol allergy to result in anaphylactic shock requiring emergency treatment. 

In order to avoid symptoms related to a food allergy, it is important to know what is in your drink.  Many alcoholic beverages contain a number of different chemicals and preservatives  as well as natural ingredients like grapes and barley.  Be sure to ask what your drink contains before ingesting.  If you have the same symptoms each time you drink, you may have an alcohol intolerance or may be allergic to a specific ingredient.  If you are unsure, consult your doctor and consider undergoing allergy testing. 

In many cases, if you are having a reaction every time you drink, you should eliminate that substance from your diet.  Whether your body is reacting to an alcohol intolerance or an allergen within the drink, you could be damaging your health by continuing to ingest the substance.