Do you experience allergy-like symptoms from drinking beer? You’re not alone! While it may seem like you’re allergic to beer, it’s actually more likely to be something else!
Can you be allergic to beer? Not really.
A true allergy to alcohol is extremely rare. An alcohol allergy could even be life threatening, with symptoms like anaphylactic shock. However, experiencing negative symptoms from beer doesn’t automatically mean it’s an allergy. In any case, the cause is much more likely to be less severe.
If it’s not an allergy to beer, what is it?
More likely than an alcohol allergy, there could be a couple reasons for your negative reactions to beer.
- Celiac disease
- Alcohol intolerance
- Sensitivity to ingredients or additives
1. Celiac disease and beer
Celiac disease means that eating gluten will trigger an immune response in the body. This reaction causes inflammation and damage to the small intestine. It’s estimated that Celiac disease affects about 1% of all Americans.
Individuals with Celiac disease need to be very careful about consuming gluten, found in bread, bakery items and so many more food products.
But did you know that beer has gluten? If you need to remain gluten free, beer needs to be avoided, too.
If you’re looking for gluten in beer, you’ll find malted barley and wheat. Both ingredients contain gluten and can cause negative reactions. If you get really uncomfortable allergy-like symptoms from beer, it may be that it’s actually the gluten causes the issues, and not the alcohol.
There are some gluten-free beers available on the market (although not tons), but make sure you check the label before purchasing. Beer labels should very clearly indicate that the beer is gluten-free or not. Those with Celiac disease can drink other types of alcohol instead, such as distilled liquors and some hard ciders.
If Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity cause your negative symptoms to beer, make sure to carefully choose your alcoholic beverages to avoid symptoms.
2. Alcohol intolerance
Alcohol intolerance can cause negative symptoms from beer. You might have heard this condition called “Asian Flush” although it can impact Caucasians, too.
Alcohol intolerance or Asian Flush symptoms include things like:
- A red, flushed face (including hives)
- Red eyes
- Nasal congestion or a stuffy nose
- Wheezing or trouble breathing
- A general discomfort
Sometimes, alcohol intolerance is confused with an allergy because both conditions have very similar symptoms. Allergic reactions to things like dust or dog dander could include those shown with an alcohol intolerance. However, this isn’t a “true” allergy to alcohol.
If you want more information on why your face turns red after a pint, we have lots of information here: Why does my face go red after drinking alcohol?
How can I find out if I have alcohol intolerance?
A good way to tell if you might have this condition is that you experience some negative symptoms from different drinks, not just beer. Alcohol intolerance symptoms are caused by the body’s inability to break down alcohol. That means negative symptoms will appear with various alcoholic drinks, not exclusively with beer for instance.
However, many people report that certain drinks make their symptoms much worse, such as beer or red wine. If you experience negative symptoms from red wine (including a red face) make sure to read our article: Red face after drinking red wine? You’re not alone!
In addition, it’s likely that someone in your family has this condition because it’s usually passed on through family members. Since it’s caused by an ineffective liver enzyme, there is currently no cure for alcohol intolerance.
There are some medical tests that look for this condition, also known as a “ALDH2 deficiency.” 23andMe have a health test kit that will look for this deficiency, but it’s expensive (and usually can only bought with an ancestry kit). However, most people don’t bother testing for alcohol intolerance (or Asian Flush) because it’s a common condition in their family.
Can Asian Flush Cure help?
Here at Asain Flush Cure, we are testing and reviewing as many Asian Flush relief products as we can to help reduce your symptoms. If you still want to enjoy a drink now and there, using a product that reduces your symptoms is a valid option.
Make sure to check out our product review section before giving up on beer entirely. Have a product you want us to review? Just let us know!
3. Sensitivity to ingredients or additives
Many alcoholic drinks contain various ingredients, additives and/or preservatives. Your negative reactions to beer could be caused by a sensitivity to one of these chemicals.
Beer is brewed from cereal grains and most drinks will contain four main ingredients:
- Grain (mostly malted barley but also other grains)
If you have a sensitivity to one of these, or any additives included in beer, you’ll likely experience some form of symptoms. The best route forward is to find what bothers your system (likely gluten) and find drinks without that particular ingredient.
In any case, taking an allergy test with your doctor could help determine what you’re allergic and/or sensitive to and help point you in the right direction. If you have a particular food allergy and that ingredient in used in the drink, you can expect to experience an allergic reaction.
What should I do next?
If your symptoms are very severe when you drink beer, make sure to stop drinking and speak to your doctor or allergy specialist. Just because a true allergy to alcohol is rare, doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Visit your doctor if your reaction to alcohol is painful and serious.
In any case, “beer allergies” don’t really exist. Although it’s rare, if you’re allergic to alcohol, all alcoholic drinks will give you a reaction. If you only experience a reaction to beer, it’s likely due to alcohol intolerance or a sensitivity to ingredients like gluten.