Are you allergic to alcohol? Would you know what symptoms to watch out for? Have you ever experienced nasal congestion, wheezing, palpation, chest pain, headaches, or a flushing sensation after drinking alcohol? If so, you could have what is known as alcohol intolerance. This is a genetic disposition in which the body is lacking the proper enzymes know as Aldehyde Dehydrogenase. This enzyme is necessary to digest and metabolize or breakdown the alcohol. Sometimes this gene is altered making it impossible to breakdown spirits. This type of condition is hereditary. Other times this enzyme is deficient it cannot break the alcohol down into acetic acid or vinegar. People of Asian decent are more prone to this gene defect and that is why the flushing of skin is know as the "oriental flushing syndrome." Currently there is no treatment or cure for alcohol intolerance, but one may be just on the horizon. Scientist have isolated the mutated gene that renders the enzyme ineffective at metabolizing the toxins associated with alcohol, and they have discovered a compound that can repair this defective gene. More research is needed before this can become a cure. As for now, abstinence is the only preventable method available for this condition.

Sometimes people think that they are allergic to alcohol, but what they really may be allergic to is the ingredients in specific brands of alcohol. Sometimes allergies can be set off by sulfur dioxides and other preservatives. People that suffer from asthma may react from the sulfites that are always present in wines. Others can react to the type of grains used such as rye or wheat. If this is the case, then corn whiskey or potato vodka could be substituted as an option. Malted barley, hops or brewers yeast have been know to trigger reactions in beer drinkers, but this is rare. Salicylates found in yeast, wines and beer can trigger skin reactions or an allergic rash. Histamine is a byproduct of the fermentation process and can be in high amounts in red wines. This quantity can cause allergic reactions in some people that are histamine intolerant. Still others can experience reactions after mixing alcohol with antibiotics or antifugals because that inhibit the effect of Aldehyde Dehydrogenase. Regardless of what the trigger is caused by, those with allergic reactions should make reading labels a regular practice.

Most reaction are not severe enough to cause alarm. Mild reactions can usually be treated with over the counter antihistamines. There have been severe cases of reactions that can trigger migraines from the histamine, and in a worse case scenario anaphylactic shock can occur. If you have consumed some alcohol, and afterwards, you experience shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, rapid heart rate or weak pulse, and you think that you are allergic to alcohol, then you should seek medical attention immediately. If you know that you are allergic to alcohol, then don't drink it.