Good To Nose Baraka Blog

Alcohol and Your Sinuses

Written By: Sue
February 5, 2015

sparklingIntolerance and Allergies

Does your face flush or your nose become congested after drinking a glass of wine or beer? If so, these could be signs that you have an intolerance to alcohol. Most people don’t like to admit it. After all, alcohol can be part of a nice dinner with friends or a weekend by the lake. If the symptoms aren’t too severe, most people just tolerate it. However, if you relax most nights with an alcoholic beverage and have alcohol intolerance, you might experience congestion and other related issues 24/7.

Here are the facts when it comes to alcohol intolerance:

  1. With an intolerance, the body has difficulty digesting the common ingredients found in various alcohols such as sulfites or other preservatives, chemicals additives, grains, or even histamine, a naturally occurring byproduct of the fermentation process.
  1. Alcohol intolerance is different than an allergy. An allergy means that when you drink alcohol, your body immediately releases histamine into the blood in reaction to the alcohol. However, this release of histamine doesn’t get worse the more you drink. For example, if you get a stuffy nose, it never gets worse than a stuffy nose. An intolerance to alcohol, on the other hand, means that your body is missing a certain enzyme to break it down.  The more you drink the more severe the reaction. For example, if you drink a small amount you might merely get a stuffy nose, but if you keep drinking you might get asthma and after that hives. In other words, it progressively gets worse the more you consume.  That is a big difference from an allergy!
  1. Alcohol intolerance can run in families. Ask around to see if other members of your family get symptoms such as congestion or hives.
  1. Aging reduces the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol; thus what you drank in your 30s without any noticeable reaction can now cause things like congestion or asthma in your 50s.

What does this all mean? Not much for the weekend or occasional drinker, because who wants to give up a glass of red wine at a dinner party? However, for those of you that relax each night with an alcoholic beverage and then can’t sleep because you are congested or are having to take a hit from your inhaler, you just might rethink how you relax.  And if not, you can now understand the reasons for those issues.

You might want to check out this blog I wrote about food intolerances vs food allergies to understand the subject more.

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