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What Is Alcohol Intolerance?

a person tries to hand a friend a drink but they push it away after understanding what is alcohol intolerance

Alcohol is a socially acceptable substance for most people in the U.S. It is sometimes consumed at parties, celebrations, and for leisure. Because this has been marketed to you since childhood, you decide to drink. Something happens, though. You start breaking out in hives, and your skin turns red. These could be symptoms of alcohol intolerance.

At Woodland Recovery Center, we have alcohol addiction treatment that helps those with alcohol addiction and alcohol intolerance. Alcohol intolerance is different than an allergy to alcohol, but it can be just as unpleasant. It occurs when the body lacks the enzyme needed to break down alcohol, which results in a reaction shortly after drinking or eating certain foods containing trace amounts of alcohol. To learn more about what alcohol intolerance is, give us a call today at 662.222.2989.

What Is Alcohol Intolerance?

You might be asking yourself, “What is alcohol intolerance?” Alcohol intolerance is a reaction to the consumption of alcohol, which can range from mild symptoms such as flushed skin and headaches to severe reactions like anaphylaxis. It typically occurs because the body lacks the enzyme needed to break down alcohol.

This lack of enzyme is referred to as aldehyde dehydrogenase deficiency (ALDH2) and can be inherited in some cases or acquired through other medical conditions.

It is important to note that an alcohol allergy is different than intolerance. An allergy is caused by the immune system reacting to certain components of alcohol, or other substances mixed with it, whereas a lack of an enzyme causes intolerance. If you are experiencing any reaction after consuming alcohol, it’s essential to talk to your doctor and undergo the necessary tests.

Alcohol Intolerance Symptoms

Symptoms of alcohol intolerance are similar to those of an alcohol allergy. The symptoms of alcohol intolerance can include:

  • Skin flushing
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face, lips, and tongue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing

There are some complications with alcohol intolerance as well. People with an alcohol intolerance tend to get migraines when they drink. Migraines are stressful headaches that are persistent. Another complication of alcohol intolerance is a severe allergic reaction. There is a slight difference between alcohol intolerance and an alcohol allergy.

Alcohol Allergy vs. Intolerance to Alcohol

Alcohol intolerance and alcohol allergies are similar. These conditions are similar to the point where it can be difficult to tell which condition someone suffers from. However, two things separate these conditions: genetics and ingredients.

Alcohol intolerance is mainly a genetic disorder, whereas an allergy is usually to an ingredient in alcohol. Alcoholic drinks can have several different components in them, and one of those components can cause an allergic reaction. Some of these would include:

  • Gluten and yeast
  • Proteins within grapes
  • Egg or seafood proteins
  • Barley, wheat, or hops
  • Sulfate

These substances can cause different allergic reactions, like rashes, difficulty breathing, and even can trigger asthma.

Prevention of Alcohol Intolerance

The best method of prevention is not drinking alcohol. There isn’t something that can prevent the reactions to alcohol, unfortunately, so the best precaution would be to stay away from alcohol entirely—either that or avoid the substance that causes a reaction. Reading labels is helpful as it will show what ingredients and additives are in a drink, but it might not list all of them.

At Woodland Recovery Center, we are here to help those who suffer from alcohol intolerance and addiction. We provide top-notch treatment for those suffering from both. Our comprehensive care program helps patients identify triggers that lead to alcohol use and provides them with the necessary coping skills to manage these behaviors. Contact us today at 662.222.2989 if you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol intolerance or addiction and want more information about our treatment programs.

Diagnosing Alcohol Intolerance

Alcohol intolerance can be diagnosed in a few ways. Some of those ways include:

  • Skin prick test – A doctor will prick the skin with a tiny amount of alcohol and observe how the body reacts.
  • Elimination diet – The patient is asked to cut alcohol from their diet for two weeks and observe any changes in symptoms.
  • Blood tests – These tests measure the level of enzymes in the blood that are responsible for breaking down alcohol.

If you think that you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol intolerance, then it’s important to speak with your physician. They can provide the best advice and guidance on adequately managing symptoms and determine whether other medical conditions are causing the reactions. Alcohol intolerance can be uncomfortable, but treatment options are available if needed.

Call Woodland Recovery Center for Our Alcohol Addiction Treatment

At Woodland Recovery Center, we offer the best care for our patients so they can live out their best futures. If you or a loved one suffers from alcohol intolerance, addiction, or co-occurring conditions, we can help. Our comprehensive treatment plans are tailored to each patient’s needs and provide evidence-based treatment that works to give patients the best chance at lasting recovery. We understand what it takes to break free of addiction and offer you the level of care you deserve. Contact us today at 662.222.2989 to learn more about our treatment programs.