Developed Alcohol Allergy

Patient

Q: So I have this peculiar allergy to alcohol. Whenever I drink alcohol, about 2 hours later my throat swells up and I develop minor asthma, I become congested and my lips/area around my eyes swell. My eyes then stay swelled about 48 hours and nothing that I've tried makes the swelling go down. I can drink some malt liquor if I also drink about double the amount of water with it. The weird thing is I didn't use to have this allergy- I would drink vodka occasionally and nothing would happen. Then I stopped drinking for about 6 months and vodka gave me a horrible reaction that included a nosebleed- but I could drink beer with no problems whatsoever. Then beer started giving me reactions after I again stopped drinking for a long period of time. The allergy isn't dangerous, it's just strange and very inconvenient. I'd like to get to the bottom of this issue so that I can have a better understanding of it.

Symptoms:  Symptoms: Asthma, congestion, inflammation of eyes/lips
Doctor

A:   Thank you for your question. This does seem like you have developed an allergy to alcohol. In fact, the reaction you are experiencing when you ingest alcohol is quite concerning as your breathing can in fact be obstructed due to swelling of the airways. For this reason we encourage you to refrain from drinking any alcohol. Also, it would be wise to consult a specialist in allergy and immunology in order to conduct allergy testing, in order to determine with certainty if you are have a severe allergy to alcohol. If this is the case, you cannot drink alcohol as you will be at risk of severe allergic reactions.


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