How to Know If You Have Alcohol Intolerance

It’s no secret that alcohol is a part of many social gatherings and celebrations. Though most people can enjoy a drink or two without issue, others find that they cannot consume any alcohol at all without feeling sick. If you suspect you may have alcohol intolerance, it’s essential to understand the signs and symptoms so you can take the necessary steps to manage your health. 

Here we explore what causes alcohol intolerance and how you can determine if you are affected.

What is alcohol intolerance, and what are the symptoms

Alcohol intolerance is a condition in which a person has an adverse reaction to alcohol.

Alcohol intolerance symptoms can vary from person to person, but they often include nausea, vomiting, skin flushing, and headaches. In some cases, alcohol intolerance can also cause difficulty breathing and an increased heart rate. Even small amounts of alcohol typically trigger the symptoms of alcohol intolerance. It is important to note that alcohol intolerance is not the same as alcoholism.

Alcoholics are physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol and will experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking. People with alcohol intolerance, on the other hand, have an adverse reaction to alcohol consumption. While the exact cause of alcohol intolerance is unknown, it is thought to result from an inherited genetic trait.

How to know if you have alcohol intolerance

If you suspect that you may have alcohol intolerance, there are several ways to determine whether or not this is the case.

  • Keeping a food and alcohol diary: Start keeping a detailed food and alcohol diary of everything you eat and drink. It can help you identify any potential triggers for your symptoms to avoid them in the future. You should also note when your symptoms occur and how long they last.
  • Doing an elimination diet: An elimination diet involves eliminating alcohol from your diet for a certain period and then reintroducing it slowly while monitoring any reactions. If your symptoms appear after consuming alcohol, then it is likely that you have alcohol intolerance.
  • Getting tested: Your doctor may recommend allergy testing or a blood alcohol level test to confirm alcohol intolerance. In some cases, the results of these tests may indicate that you have an underlying condition, such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, making you more sensitive to alcohol consumption.

What to do if you think you have alcohol intolerance

If you think that you may have alcohol intolerance, it is crucial to speak to your doctor. They will be able to help you manage your symptoms and recommend the best course of action. Depending on the severity of your alcohol intolerance, they may suggest avoiding alcohol altogether or limiting your alcohol intake.

It is also helpful to know what other substances can cause alcohol intolerance symptoms. It may include food additives, certain medications, and even some types of alcohol, such as beer or wine. Knowing what triggers your alcohol intolerance can help you to avoid these substances in the future.

Alcohol intolerance treatments

If your alcohol intolerance is severe, there are a few treatments available. One option is to take an alcohol-intolerance drug that blocks the enzymes that cause alcohol intolerance symptoms. Another option is immunotherapy, which involves receiving regular injections of small amounts of alcohol to help your body become desensitized to alcohol over time.

Finally, it’s important to remember that alcohol intolerance differs from alcohol allergy. If you have a true alcohol allergy, avoiding alcohol altogether is the only way to manage your symptoms.

Foods that contain alcohol and how to avoid them

It may surprise you to know that some foods contain alcohol, and these include items such as beer-battered fried food, alcohol-based marinades, and alcoholic beverages. If you have alcohol intolerance, you must be aware of these hidden sources of alcohol in your food and avoid them whenever possible.

Fortunately, there are alcohol-free alternatives to these foods. For example, you can use a non-alcoholic beer batter or alcohol-free marinades when cooking. If you’re eating out, it’s always a good idea to ask your server if there are any alcohol-containing ingredients in the dishes you order.

Tips for living with alcohol intolerance

Living with alcohol intolerance can be challenging at times, but it is possible to make your life easier. Some simple tips include:

  • Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and flush out alcohol before it has a chance to irritate your body.
  • Taking an over-the-counter antihistamine before consuming alcohol if you know that you’re going to be exposed to alcohol.
  • Making sure to eat a balanced meal before and after consuming alcohol, as this can help minimize the effects of alcohol on your body.

By following these tips and working closely with your doctor, you can manage alcohol intolerance and lead a happy and healthy life. With the right approach and lifestyle changes, alcohol intolerance can be manageable and alcohol consumption enjoyable.

In conclusion

Alcohol intolerance can be an unpleasant experience, but it is possible to manage your symptoms with the right approach. If you think you may have alcohol intolerance, talking to your doctor is the first step. They will be able to help you determine if alcohol is a trigger for your symptoms and provide advice on how to manage them. 

By understanding alcohol intolerance, avoiding alcohol-containing foods and beverages, and taking the proper steps to manage alcohol intolerance, it is possible to live an entire life with alcohol intolerance.