Alcohol Allergy Symptoms can refer to more than one type of allergy. Did you know that some people are actually allergic to alcohol? Not in the sense that they get hungover or they drink too much - not the way that AA uses this term - but in the sense that they are allergic to some of the ingredients in alcohol and get sick just from having a few sips.
People generally don't have an allergy to alcohol itself, but some of the key ingredients in alcohol. One of the most common alcohol allergies occurs when people are allergic to gluten and wheat. Gluten and wheat are both found in beer, and someone who is allergic to gluten or wheat will be unable to drink beer without having alcohol allergies symptoms.
Some of these symptoms might include nausea, stomach pains, head pains, rashes, irritated or itchy skin, and the inability to breathe clearly through the nose. Most of these symptoms are very similar to food allergies.
If someone who is allergic to wheat or gluten drinks a beer that is made from one of these ingredients, they will experience many of these symptoms very soon after drinking the beer. The person does not have to consume large amounts of alcohol to feel these symptoms. Again, having an alcohol allergy doesn't mean that we drink too much and then we get sick in the morning and we are hungover.
Many beer companies are now making wheat and gluten free beer so they can expand their audience. People who couldn't have had beer 10 years ago because of an alcohol allergy are now able to buy and consume some beers safely without worrying about alcohol allergies symptoms. Wine, wine coolers, and some liqueurs are gluten free. If you have an allergy to alcohol, be sure to check the ingredients of anything you are about to drink to make sure you aren't allergic to one of the ingredients in it.
Some people have an allergy to histamines, which are found in large amounts in red wine and found in most other alcoholic beverages. The only way to make sure you don't have an allergic reaction is to abstain from the alcoholic beverages. Some people will take anti-histamines to try to counteract this so they can safely drink alcohol, but this is not advisable. It may help a little bit, but if you have an allergy to histamine, the only way to truly avoid these alcohol allergy symptoms is to avoid alcoholic beverages.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, being allergic to alcohol means something different. People who are alcoholics have an allergy to alcohol in the sense that they have a different reaction when drinking than do most people. They may not get hives or break out into a rash when they drink, but an alcoholic is allergic in the sense that once even one drop of alcohol enters their system, they have an adverse reaction.
It may not happen right away, but most alcoholics believe that once that first sip of alcohol is in their body, they then cannot control their drinking. Once they are finished drinking, they experience cravings, whereas non-alcoholics typically do not. This is the alcohol allergy that people talk about in Alcoholics Anonymous.
Are these two kinds of allergies really that different? Just because one has a very concrete physical manifestation, does that make it a more legitimate or real allergy? There is still a lot of contention surrounding the use of the word allergy when talking about alcoholics and how they react to alcohol. It seems to me that these kinds of allergies are about the same. Is one type of alcohol allergy symptoms more 'real' than the other? What do you think?