Causes and risk factors of alcohol intolerance symptoms

What causes alcohol intolerance

Alcohol intolerance happens when there is not enough or proper enzymes that will break down all the toxins that are present in alcohol. But there is something interesting about this alcoholic intolerance problem. This problem has been found mostly in Asians. It is also known as an alcoholic flush reaction. The reasons are mentioned in the risk factors described below.

Along with the effects of alcohol itself, there are other ingredients in the alcoholic beverages like beer or wine, can also cause intolerance reactions. These include:

  • Preservatives like sulfites or others are also quite known for causing allergies.


  • Grains, chemicals, or other odd ingredients.


  • The byproduct of brewing or fermentation, also known as histamine can also cause allergic reactions.


  • In some cases, reactions may also be due to an allergy to a grain like corn, wheat or rye or any another substance in the alcoholic beverages.


  • Hodgkin lymphoma can cause severe pain in case you have it and you drink alcoholic beverages so you need to be very careful.
Read About What are alcohol intolerance symptoms?

Before knowing if your problem is due to alcohol itself and not due to the elements present in it, you can ask yourselves some questions like:

  • Does only wine or beer cause this effects on you but not vodka or gin? This can be because beer and wine have a high level of natural histamine-like chemicals and these trigger conditions mentioned above like hives and flushing to some people. So, this way you can identify what is causing this irritating problem.


  • Are you allergic to some grains or any kind of fruits? This can also be another reason behind this whole alcohol intolerance thing. The alcoholic beverages like wine and beer consist of fruits or grains and people with allergies to the very ingredient of the beverage can result in complications and indicates intolerance. If you also have pollen allergies, you are quite certain to be intolerant to such beverages.


  • Do you lack the natural chemical alcohol dehydrogenase? This very chemical helps in breaking down alcohol. But when your body lacks it, this can have severe flushing when you drink alcohol. You may notice that if you get intoxicated quite quickly and if you have any feelings of nausea or vomiting. This sometimes happens because of genetic effects.


  • Are your family members intolerant to alcohol? Not necessarily, but most people whose parents have this alcohol intolerant problem go through the problem as well and it is quite astonishing that genetic can have such an effect as well.


  • Did you start taking any new medications just around the time this problem started? There have been cases where people taking medications like niacin, Elidel or Protopic creams, disulfiram, metronidazole, etc. experienced flushing and problems similar to alcohol intolerance although there is nothing to do with alcohol. So, this possibility also demonstrates how the reason behind intolerance can be a lot of things and sometimes not even alcohol.


  • Are you Asian? This has been elaborated in the part above in terms of genetics as well as how Asian people’s body works. Asian people are prone to alcohol intolerance and they get intoxicated too quickly. So, being an Asian also makes you vulnerable to the effects of alcohol.


Finally, not only these but there are a lot of possibilities of things going on just due to the effects of alcohol as well as the ingredients present in alcohol. You need to get medical attention if anything serious happens.

Risk Factors of alcohol intolerance

There are certain characteristics in you that make you intolerant to alcoholic beverages. So, the risk levels may vary from person to person based on some factors. Here are some factors that make you prone to intolerance from alcohol:

Being of Asian descent: This might surprise you but you may have noticed that Asians go all red and dizzy after even a small amount of alcohol. This actually has a scientific explanation. The metabolism of alcohol causes the production of acetaldehyde which in turn causes the face to turn red and other such abnormal reactions result to a lot of allergies at the same time.

Having hay fever (allergic rhinitis) or asthma: People with such chronic diseases as asthma and hay fever are not advised to take even slightest amount of alcohol but if intake has already been done, this can be really dangerous because any different reactions of the body in the respiratory system can affect the life of the person.

Having an allergy to another food or to grains: If you have an allergy to any of the ingredients present in the alcoholic beverage you are having, you might have to refrain from the drink or you will suffer the allergic reaction in most cases. Also, some people who are allergic to pollens have reported about being intolerant to alcohol.

Having Hodgkin’s lymphoma: This is a condition of tumor or cancer caused by the WBCs (White Blood Cells) and this can really lead to serious complications, so drinking even after having this is a stupid decision in itself. So you might want to focus more on the welfare of your health rather than on drinking.


Although the normal alcohol intolerant reaction may sound quite easy, this can turn fatal and many people have suffered from this. Complications of alcoholic intolerance from alcoholic beverages are:

Migraines: In people who have migraines, drinking alcohol can trigger more attacks of a migraine and some people may just be introduced to migraines due to overindulgence of alcohol. Histamine may be abundant in your body causing serious problems as well along with these headaches.

A severe allergic reaction: In rare cases, an allergic reaction that is life-threatening also known as the anaphylactic reaction may occur which requires emergency treatment.

So, these are some brief introduction as well as knowledge about alcohol intolerance which can help you deal with it and also know how it happens.

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