Symptoms of Alcohol Intolerance

Can include:

  • Skin rashes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Skin flushing
  • Exacerbation of asthma
  • Wheeze
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Heartburn
  • Vomiting

The most common of these symptoms are nasal congestion and skin flushing. The best way to limit such symptoms is to avoid alcohol or limit the amount of alcohol you consume. Some of these symptoms can be occur when alcohol is mixed with certain medications like Anatbuse.


Complications arise when there is another food type contained within the alcohol that you are intolerant too. Histamine in the alcohol can often causes headaches. Histamine occurs naturally in the body, being released by the immune system during an allergic reaction. Raised histamine levels often cause allergic like symptoms, such as a migraine.

How do I know if I am alcohol intolerant?

If you suspect you have alcohol intolerance, you may wish to discuss it with your GP. You should keep a food dairy and take it to your appointment so they are better able to assess whether it is definitely alcohol intolerance or another – such as wheat or gluten.

The food diary should contain a list of all foods eaten and any symptoms triggered by the food, along with the date and time. The food diary should be kept while you are following your normal diet, over a two week interval.

Meanwhile, to relieve the symptoms, you should avoid drinking the beverage/s that seem to trigger the symptoms.

Living with alcohol intolerance

Unfortunately, there is no treatment to prevent the adverse reaction your body experiences as a result of alcohol consumption.

The best way to manage alcohol intolerance is to prevent the unpleasant symptoms associated with alcohol intolerance. This means removing alcohol from your diet or at least the particular alcoholic drink that seems to cause the problem.  In mild cases, sometimes over the counter anti-histamine tablets may provide some relief from the symptoms.

Your doctor may suggest following an elimination diet, where you remove all alcohol containing foods from your diet. An alcohol-free diet should relieve symptoms and allow you to return to living a normal life. Alcohol isn’t the most beneficial drink to regularly consume, so you may see an improvement in your general health while following an alcohol-free diet.

If after a couple of weeks symptoms, your doctor may suggest for you to try a small amount of alcohol. If symptoms develop it would confirm alcohol as the offending food. If on the other hand, symptoms do not occur this could suggest an improved tolerance for alcohol. If this is the case, you may find you are able to reintroduce small amount of alcohol into your diet. 

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