Although alcohol intolerance usually isn't a serious issue, you may want to discuss it with your doctor at your next appointment. Because appointments can be brief, it's a good idea to prepare ahead of time. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
- Write down any symptoms you've had, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes. Stress can sometimes worsen allergic reactions or sensitivities.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Questions to ask your doctor
- Is my reaction to alcoholic beverages likely due to an allergy or something else?
- Are any of my medications likely causing or worsening my reaction to alcohol?
- Other than the most likely cause, what are other possible causes of my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- What treatments are available?
- Do I need to give up alcohol altogether?
Don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment any time that you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Being ready to answer your doctor's questions can save time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first notice a reaction to alcoholic beverages?
- What beverages seem to trigger your symptoms? For example, are they triggered by beer, wine, or a particular type of liquor or mixed drink?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- How long does it take for symptoms to appear after drinking the beverage?
- How much of the beverage do you drink before you notice a reaction?
- Have you tried any over-the-counter allergy medications, such as antihistamines, for your reaction, and if so, did they help?
- Do you have any known food allergies or other allergies?
What you can do in the meantime
Avoid the beverage or beverages that seem to cause your reaction until your doctor's appointment. If you do drink an alcoholic beverage that causes a mild reaction, over-the-counter antihistamines may help relieve symptoms. If you have a more severe reaction — such as a severe skin reaction, weak pulse, vomiting or trouble breathing — seek emergency help right away.
Apr. 26, 2012
- Armentia A. Adverse reactions to wine: Think outside the bottle. Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2008;8:266.
- Fazio SB. Approach to flushing in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Feb. 28, 2012.
- Ehlers I. Ethanol as a cause of hypersensitivity reactions to alcoholic beverages. Clinical & Experimental Allergy. 2002;32:1235.
- Stadie V, et al. Itching attacks with generalized hyperhydrosis as initial symptoms of Hodgkin's disease. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. 2003;17:559.
- Cianferoni A, et al. Food-induced anaphylaxis. Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America. 2012;32:165.
- Nakagawa Y, et al. Urticarial reactions caused by ethanol. Allergology International. 2006;55:411.
- Sticherling M, et al. Alcohol: Intolerance syndromes, urticarial and anaphylactoid reactions. Clinics in Dermatology. 1999;17:417.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.