Have you experienced restricted breathing after a glass of wine, or a pint of beer? You’re not alone! Trouble breathing after drinking alcohol is usually the sign of something else and could be a part of:
- Asian Flush (or Alcohol flush reaction)
- Alcohol allergy
- Asthma and alcohol
- Alcohol is interacting with medication
- Alcohol poisoning
1. Asian Flush or Alcohol flush reaction
Commonly referred to as “Asian Flush” (although Caucasians can experience it, too) alcohol flush reaction is when your body cannot break down alcohol.
If you want to do a deep-dive on this alcohol flush reaction, make sure to read our article: Why does my face go red after drinking alcohol?
In short, your body reacts negatively to alcohol. Sometimes this happens after you finish your first drink, or it might start after after just a few sips. It really depends on the person, the alcohol and other variables.
Either way, alcohol flush reaction symptoms are uncomfortable, embarrassing and painful. Trouble breathing or laboured breathing can be a symptom of alcohol flush reaction.
Most noticeably, users will usually get a bright red face from alcohol as part of alcohol flush reaction (hence the name). Individuals with this condition may also experience congestion, dizziness, red eyes, trouble breathing and/or nausea. However, everyone experiences alcohol flush reaction differently. You may have one of these symptoms, or a combination. You may also find that your reaction is much stronger when you drink beer or wine compared to gin or vodka.
Either way, trouble breathing or wheezing could be part of alcohol flush reaction.
Most people tend to self-diagnose alcohol flush reaction as it usually runs in the family. However, there are a few tests for this condition. 23andMe health kits test for alcohol flush reaction (or Asian Flush) or Orig3n has an ALDH2 Deficiency test which looks for this condition specifically.
Asian Flush Cure has been testing out products to help reduce these symptoms. Make sure to check out our reviews before you buy! Some of our recent reviews include:
2. Alcohol allergy
Although extremely rare, an alcohol allergy does exist. The symptoms of an alcohol allergy are similar to alcohol flush reaction but much more severe. So while you might get red cheeks if you have alcohol flush reaction, you might experience painful hives all over your body if it’s an alcohol allergy.
In a sense, alcohol can trigger an allergy attack, such as trouble breathing, hives and difficulty swallowing. The individual likely won’t even need excessive alcohol or heavy drinking to spur on a reaction. Simple alcohol consumption would bring on a reaction, often right away.
If you have any severe and extreme symptoms to alcohol, it’s important to speak to your doctor. They will be able to use your medical information to best diagnose your issue. Unfortunately, there is no Asian Glow medicine currently available.
More likely, you could have an allergic reaction to an ingredient, additive or preservative in an alcoholic beverages. Drinks can include common allergens like histamine, wheat, gluten, additives, hops or tannins. So while the drink gives you a negative reaction, you’re not actually allergic to alcohol. Instead, you’re having an allergic reaction to something within the first.
To make things more confusing, you may have an intolerance to one of the ingredients, additives or preservatives in the alcoholic drinks. An intolerance would be like someone who is lactose intolerant, versus someone who has a peanut allergy. Both cause negative symptoms, but aren’t exactly the same.
At the end of the day, it could be hard to tell. Completing an allergy test at your doctors could help shed light on this issue once and for all.
3. Asthma and alcohol
People with asthma may find that alcohol causes them difficulty breathing, breathing problems, shortness of breath or even an asthma attack.
Some research has shown a connection between difficulty breathing and alcohol in those with pre-existing breathing conditions such as Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma.
So while alcohol wouldn’t cause you to develop asthma, alcohol can certainly make asthma symptoms worse. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, make sure to speak to your doctor to see if consuming alcohol is safe.
4. Alcohol is interacting with medication
Lots of medications come with instructions on whether it can be mixed with alcohol or not. If your doctor advises you not to drink alcohol while on a certain medication, it’s important you follow their instructions. Trouble breathing after drinking alcohol can be a symptom of a negative interaction with medication.
Mixing alcohol with medications could also cause other long term side effects that you need to be aware of. Make sure to stop drinking and check with your doctor before continuing. You may have other treatment options instead.
5. Alcohol poisoning
Did you know that trouble breathing is one of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning? Although this condition is scary and serious, it would only happen if you’ve consumed high amounts of alcohol, or binge drinking. You wouldn’t experience trouble breathing from alcohol poisoning from just having a single drink.
Alcohol poisoning occurs when someone drinks a lot of alcohol in a short amount of time (also called binge drinking). Their blood alcohol level skyrockets and becomes toxic, causing alcohol poisoning.
Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:
- Passing out
- Restricted breathing
Of course this condition is very serious and needs to be treated right away. However, if you’ve experienced some trouble breathing after having a single glass of wine, it’s likely not caused by alcohol poisoning.
Trouble breathing after drinking alcohol – now what?
If your symptoms are severe and concerning, make sure to speak to your doctor before you drink again. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Most likely, you may have some type of intolerance to an ingredient in alcoholic drinks, or you might be experiencing alcohol flush reaction. If you have a history of medical conditions, it could be that those are interacting negatively with alcohol.
Make sure you don’t ignore this reaction but look into why this is happening for you.