Have you started to notice certain uncomfortable symptoms after drinking alcohol? In particular, symptoms that most people don’t get when they drink? Whether these symptoms have started to occur recently out of the blue or you’ve always experienced them after drinking, signs of alcohol intolerance and allergies shouldn’t be ignored.
Discovering that you have an alcohol allergy may seem like the end of fun nights out with friends and those unwinding sessions after work but that is not necessarily the case. This blog will delve deeper into alcohol allergies and intolerance and the comforting fact that there are still spirits that you can drink even if you are intolerant — such as gin.
A bit more about alcohol allergies and intolerance
Before we get to the good news, let’s go over some of the signs and symptoms that point to a potential alcohol intolerance or allergy. Although many people use the terms interchangeably, there are differences between an alcohol allergy and an intolerance. Having an alcohol intolerance is much more common than an allergy. In fact, research has revealed that almost 25% of drinkers show signs of alcohol intolerance. On the other hand, there isn’t much research on the prevalence of alcohol allergies; however, we do know what the symptoms are and that they can be dangerous.
How to tell if you have an alcohol allergy
There are various signs that point to a potential alcohol allergy and those that indicate an intolerance instead. Here are 5 of the most common symptoms of both, so next time you’re enjoying a glass, jug or pint, you can keep them in mind.
If everything from your face to your neck, chest and the rest of your body turns bright red and feels hot, your body is letting you know that you’re allergic to alcohol. With this redness often comes dizziness, increased heart rate, blotches and blemishes. This happens because you lack the enzyme (ALDH) that processes alcohol.
Those with alcohol intolerance might also experience this redness but without the same intense physical discomfort.
If you’re allergic to sulphites, which naturally occur in alcohol, you may break out in itchy and painful hives after drinking. Those with asthma are more likely to be allergic to sulphites and should be extra wary of the appearance of hives.
However, a few itchy, dry spots on your skin after a few drinks is not a big concern but rather a sign that you may be intolerant to alcohol and should probably cut back a little on the amount you're consuming.
3. Face swelling
If parts of your face such as your nose, nasal passageways and mouth start to swell when you drink alcohol, you are likely allergic to histamine — the result of bacteria and yeast in alcohol.
For those who get a runny or blocked nose after drinking, you are likely intolerant to alcohol and should keep an eye on what and how much you’re drinking to prevent this from happening.
4. Stomach cramps and nausea
Many people confuse this symptom as a simple negative side effect of drinking alcohol. However, intense pain, nausea and diarrhea after a few beers point to an alcohol allergy; not an early hangover.
If you tend to get a stomach ache or get a bit gassy, you’re likely intolerant to the wheat or a specific ingredient in your drink and most likely aren’t allergic to alcohol.
5. Increased heart rate
Usually occurring with the flush reaction, a rapid heart rate is a sign of an alcohol allergy. A change in your breathing pattern can be uncomfortable, cause you to sit down for a minute and, hopefully, stop drinking.
An increased heart rate is also a sign of alcohol intolerance. However, this symptom will likely be less severe and free from the same concerning shortness of breath.
Gin — the saving grace for alcohol intolerance
Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge to tell whether you’re allergic to, intolerant of alcohol or neither, you’re probably wondering, “what can I drink if I’m allergic to alcohol?”.
The truth is if you’re allergic to alcohol you shouldn’t be drinking it. For those having any of the allergic reactions mentioned above, visit your GP as soon as possible to make sure you properly manage your allergy.
However, for those who are intolerant, the good news is that there is a solution — gin!
Low in histamine and free from sulphites — the chemicals that cause intolerance and allergies — gin is the best choice out of all alcoholic beverages.
Although drinking gin won’t cure your alcohol intolerance, it has much lower levels of histamine compared to beer and wine — keeping your intolerance symptoms mild. If you’re intolerant to alcohol, drinking gin in moderation will help you enjoy the relaxing side effects of alcohol but without aggressively triggering or worsening your allergic symptoms.
Choosing the perfect gin drink for alcohol intolerant drinkers
Whether you’re a regular gin drinker or you’ve just discovered that it’ll be the best option for you, gin can be enjoyed in many ways by those with alcohol intolerance. The trick to keeping your intolerance in check is to not only be wary of your alcohol choice but also of your mixers. Opt for clear, top-shelf gins such as Hendricks or Tanqueray and low histamine mixers like freshly squeezed apple juice, berry juices, lime or lemon. You can still, of course, enjoy gin-based cocktails too, as long as both the mixers and gin are specially chosen. For example, try an Autumn Sparkler cocktail — tasty and allergy-symptom-free.
Go on then, enjoy a delicious glass of gin
From classic to herbal variations, citrus flavours, nutmeg and saffron, GoodDrop has a wide range of flavourful gins. Whether you prefer London Dry or Tanqueray, browse our entire collection online now.