Symptoms of alcohol intolerance

Written by rebecca tait
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Alcohol intolerance is a rare condition. Many people mistake throwing up from alcohol as a symptom of being an alcohol-intolerant, but it's not. Alcohol intolerance is caused by the lack of the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase, and it is more common in people of Asian heritage. You cannot catch this condition. It must be inherited.

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What is Alcohol Intolerance?

Intolerance to alcohol means you have a strong, adverse reaction when you ingest alcohol. This occurs because of a deficiency of the aldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme in your digestive system, making alcohol toxic to your body. An allergic reaction occurs as your body tries to rid itself of the alcohol.

Symptoms

Your body cannot break down the alcohol ingested when you are alcohol-intolerant. The condition causes a variety of symptoms depending on the individual, including nasal congestion, mild flushing, fluttering of the heart, hot flushes, headaches and hypertension. Many with asthma will experience asthma attacks or notice a worsening of their asthma because of the sulphites in alcohol. Swelling of the lip or tongue, coughing, fainting and chest pain can be reactions from drinking beer.

What to Do During a Reaction

If you are alcohol-intolerant and you are exposed to alcohol, treat it as a normal allergic reaction. Do not panic. Excess anxiety can cause an even worse reaction. You need to notify a doctor or have a plan that works for you that stops the symptoms. If the symptoms continue, consult a doctor.

Alcohol Intolerance is Rare

Alcohol intolerance is, in fact, rare. There are allergy tests to determine whether you are alcohol-intolerant. You should get yourself checked out if you experience any of the symptoms described above.

Inherited

Those of Asian descent are most prone to inheriting this affliction. Half of eastern Asians lack the enzyme necessary for the breakdown of alcohol.

Smaller Amounts

Smaller amounts of alcohol will not lessen the symptoms of someone who is alcohol-intolerant. Studies have shown that people who lack the enzyme will get drunk faster off fewer drinks. Many get drunk of just one drink, but the reaction will be present within a few minutes. There is no cure for alcohol intolerance.

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