Alcohol Intolerance After COVID: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

While there is some variation, most of these symptoms will be similar for everyone. Most alcohol intolerance symptoms occur immediately; however, some can be delayed. Even if you know alcohol makes you feel poorly, it can sometimes be hard to figure out the root cause of the problem. The main cause of alcohol intolerance is a problem with how the body breaks down alcohol.

Most people with ALDH2 deficiency will notice some effects from the first time they take a drink, but there’s often no known reason as to why an alcohol intolerance develops. Antihistamines can help to reduce the intensity and severity of the symptoms alcohol intolerance causes. While this over-the-counter option can make you feel better, it is not actually treating the underlying problem but just masking it. It is far better to avoid alcohol altogether if you have alcohol intolerance instead of solely treating the symptoms. The symptoms of alcohol intolerance are unpleasant but rarely dangerous and will eventually go away on their own. However, if asthma symptoms occur with alcohol intolerance, it is good to see your doctor and ensure you manage your asthma correctly.

What to expect from your doctor

The cause of alcohol-related sickness may develop for various medical reasons, such as an intolerance to alcohol or another ingredient present in the beverage. The good news is that most people with AUD can benefit from treatment, which often includes a combination of behavioral treatment, medication, and support. John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

A 2010 German questionnaire surveyed 4,000 people and found that self-reported wine intolerance specifically was present in 5.2% of men and 8.9% of women. However, only around 20% of those surveyed completed and returned the questionnaire. As a result, the study’s findings may be an under-representation. It is difficult to establish a full picture of the prevalence of alcohol intolerance, though. White wine tends to contain higher levels of sulfites than red wine and beer.

Alcohol Intolerance: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

An allergy to alcohol has a very different cause from alcohol intolerance. Someone with an alcohol allergy has an allergic reaction when exposed to alcohol or to a component of alcohol. Often, it is not actually an allergy to alcohol itself but to a component of the alcohol, like grapes or hops. The symptoms are caused because the body’s immune system becomes overactive and attacks something found in the alcohol. For mild intolerances, you should either avoid alcohol, limit how much you drink or avoid certain types of alcohol with ingredients that may cause a reaction. However, if you have a serious allergy-like reaction following drinking alcohol, consult a medical professional.

what causes alcohol intolerance

Alcohol intolerance can result from a genetic condition where the body cannot break down alcohol to digest it correctly. This condition is usually genetic and is common in people of Asian descent. Alcohol intolerance may cause a person to experience immediate reactions after they drink alcohol, or they may develop it hours after, the day after, or even later in life. Allergic reactions to alcohol can cause symptoms similar to alcohol intolerance, such as difficulty breathing, coughing, runny nose or stomach upset. These symptoms could be triggered by as little as one sip and are a result of your body creating antibodies against these allergens.

How Dry January Reshaped My Relationship With Drinking

One idea is that our immune system is more resilient when we are young and can handle these foods better in our early years. Another is that an event such as using antibiotics, a period of high stress, or other health-related issues can also trigger what causes alcohol intolerance an intolerance. Some people can tolerate cocktails easily, but get drunk off just a couple of glasses of wine. One bad night doesn’t necessarily mean you are intolerant to alcohol. The rapid onset of a headache will coincide with the other symptoms.

  • In very rare cases, reactions to alcohol may be a sign of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • A big part of AUD recovery is working with a trained professional to better understand your relationship with alcohol and to learn how to cope with daily living without alcohol.
  • While there is no way to treat this condition, your healthcare provider can talk with you about ways to reduce the negative effects of alcohol intolerance.
  • This makes you want to drink more often, even if it causes harm.
  • It is an inherited disorder, so it was passed down to you from your parents.

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