How You Can Be Allergic to Alcohol
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How You Can Be Allergic to Alcohol

Different types of alcohol can cause allergic reactions in some people.

An actual allergy or allergic reaction to something is the result of your body’s immune system reacting to a substance that is not normal in your body. The most common conditions are skin rashes, asthma and hay fever. The basic cause of allergies is unknown, though some say it is the immune system over reacting. It is not known why some people can become allergic to some things and not others.

Allergies are different then intolerance to something, for example someone who is lactose intolerant might get an upset stomach or gastrointestinal pains when drinking milk. This is different than an allergic reaction or an allergy.

Many normal symptoms associated with drinking alcohol are also signs of allergies or an allergic reaction including the red eyes, runny nose, reddening of the face and neck, itchy eyes, tight chest, hives, vomiting and eczema. Being intolerant or actually allergic to alcoholic beverages would depend on which alcoholic beverage makes you feel the worst, since there are different ingredients in different alcoholic beverages.

Sulfur dioxide and sulfites

Being allergic to sulfur dioxide is rather common. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) has been added to wine for centuries to prevent the wine from turning to vinegar and having a longer shelf life. It is added to white wine during almost every stage of its production. Sulfur dioxide is a sulfite and some people are allergic to sulfites. So much so that since 1987 wine sold in the United States must have a warning label stating that the product contains sulfites. Sulfites are known to cause asthma like symptoms in some people. There are also fairly high amounts of sulfur dioxide in most dried fruits such as dried apricots and grape juices, if you don’t have the same symptoms after consuming them, then most likely the sulfur dioxide in wine is not your problem.


Histamine is a protein that is involved in the triggering of many allergic responses. Which is why so many allergy medicines contain an anti-histamine to counter the histamine response in the body to an allergy. Histamine occurs naturally in wine and there is usually more histamine in red wine than in white wine. If you are particularly sensitive to histamine, then this could cause allergy type symptoms.



Do you get allergy type symptoms only when you drink beer, then you could be allergic to yeast. Symptoms can be sneezing, itchy throat, itchy eyes, stuffy nose to even throwing up. You could be allergic to the yeast in beer. Though if you don’t have these symptoms with bread then you could possibly be allergic to the hops, malt, wheat or barley in beer depending on what ingredients the certain beer was made from. If you find yourself having these allergic symptoms with a certain beer, you can try a different brand of beer. Beers can also change their ingredients at times without your knowing it, so if for years you drank one beer and then you get these symptoms, try changing to a different beer.


Vodka can have different ingredients as well. Vodka can be made with molasses, rye, wheat, potatoes, grain, soybeans or grapes. If you are allergic to any of those ingredients, then that would show up as an allergy when you drank vodka.

Newer drinks on the market such as Smirnoff Ice and Mike’s Hard Lemonade are all made with malt in the United States and with vodka in other parts of the world.

Could you be allergic to alcohol itself, which is possible, but more likely it is one of the ingredients in the alcohol you are allergic to or have some intolerance for. The best way to determine if your are allergic or have an intolerance to alcohol is to start a food and beverage diary, writing down everything you eat and drink and how it makes you feel, including the next day. You could also go to an allergist and actually be tested for the above ingredients or alcohol itself to see if you are indeed allergic to any of them. Even if you have been drinking alcohol your entire adult life, you can develop an allergy or at the least an intolerance to any one of a number of ingredients in the alcoholic drink.

Sam Montana © 27 January 2009

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Comments (6)

Interesting. In my early 20's I went to school and lived in a drinking village (aka- an Acadian coastal city) and always dreaded my inevitable hangovers from the alcohol I consumed the nights before. As I got older I discovered that my reactions were very extreme in comparison to my peers- considering my level of consumption was always equal or lesser than my counterparts, yet somehow- my suffering was always at least twice as severe. At this point, I have concluded that alcohol is a 95% guaranteed trigger for a migraine for me- which I have been on prescription medication for for years. I am convinced there are intolerance and possibly allergic explanations regarding my relationship with alcohol also.

good summary, there are races of peoples that have a decreased level of alcohol dehydrogenase and they are intolerant of alcholol often with flushing and GI symptoms

Ranked #12 in Allergies

Another indices of sulfur compounds in the human body (e.g., -such as long-term drinking of well water that contains natural sulfur compounds like hydrogen sulfide, etc.) is that any copper coins in the person's pocket turn excessively tarnished quickly. Sulfur has a high affinity for copper and forms any one of nearly a dozen binary copper sulfide tarnishes on any copper coins in the wearer's pockets...


I am allergic to alcohol! Trace amounts, such as what might be in a chocolate bar will cause my throat to close. Unusual - yes! But very real and scary.


hi good day.. im kanzzz

at first when i was 14 i started to drink a little amount of alcohol then i discovered that im allergic to alcohol ,, when i drink 1 glass of alcohol i easily got red first on my cheek then after 2 to 3 glass, in my whole face and some in the neck then after that to my body and so on and so forth.. i really denied to myself that i was allergic to alcohol because thats the only symtom that i experienced as well as nasal congestion..

when i got addicted to alcohol like drinking rhum or brandy then after a lot of beer almost everyday.. i realized that my heart beat became faster and sometimes theres a difficulty on breathing already but still i tolerated it,,because my idea about allergy before is that its when your skin got red and theres skin itchiness.... me when i drink alcohol i didnt experience skin itchiness thats why i thought that im not allergic to alcohol, i thought this was just genetic or hereditary i guess...

when i reached college i minimized drinking alcohol coz i want to focused myself more on my studies.... but even though its minimized still myself got worst... i experienced already back pain in the kidney section or sometimes in the spine area aggravated by cool weather.. everytime i drink.

when i graduated college i've decided not to work .. i want myself 1st to relax and enjoy.... i started to drink again a lot......then it got worst i already experieced itchiness on my skin... then eventhough i didnt drink that much yet i get drowse easily and vomits...i fell asleep easily ..i rested myself about 1 to hours then drink again... but then i realized that i became weaker, i got easily tired experienced insomnia... then i already put in mind that im really allergic to alchol... then i decided not to drink or sometimes just 2 to 3 shots limit........

help me what to do.... do i really need to stop drinking for a there a way for me to be able to drink or minimize this allergy.........?????????????????

Ranked #1 in Allergies

In my opinion yes, you do need to stop drinking for a lifetime. Being allergic to alcohol is the least of your concerns, because you could possibly be an alcoholic and you need to stop drinking forever. It sounds to me that you are not the type of person who can only have one drink because one drink will always lead to many other drinks. And then you get sick or fall asleep and then drink more. Throwing up and being very tired but also having insomnia are signs of your body trying to detoxify, your body trying to get rid of the alcohol. There is nothing you can do to minimize being allergic to alcohol; you need to stop drinking forever. I don’t know where you are, but if there is an Alcoholics Anonymous group there or something similar, you should call and talk to them immediately or talk to your doctor. There is also the chance of dying from alcohol poisoning if you continue to drink like you are. You should also read this article called All About Alcohol Poisoning at