Common symptoms of alcohol intolerance

Common symptoms of alcohol intolerance

Everyone knows that excessive consumption of alcohol is detrimental to the physical and psychological health of an individual. People who consume large quantities of alcohol over a long period of time can metabolize it more rapidly than people who do not drink.

Among those who are not habitual drinkers, a lot of people experience unpleasant reactions or fall sick after consuming even a single drink. Oftentimes, it happens due to the inability of the liver to break down alcohol leading to alcohol intolerance. Alcohol intolerance is actually a genetic condition characterized by the deficiency of an enzyme called acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2).

Alcohol intolerance an indicator of a serious underlying health problem

When alcohol enters the human body, it is metabolized by two enzymes known as alcohol dehydrogenase and mitochondrial acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2). In the first step, alcohol dehydrogenase metabolizes alcohol into acetaldehyde, which is a highly toxic carcinogenic substance. Subsequently, ALDH2 metabolizes this acetaldehyde into acetate, which is further broken into smaller molecules such as carbon dioxide and water for proper elimination from the body. However, those who have a deficiency of ALDH2 develop an intolerance toward alcohol owing to the high concentration of acetaldehyde.

Listed below are some of the signs and symptoms of alcohol intolerance:

Stuffy or runny nose

This is one of the most common signs of alcohol intolerance. As soon as a person intolerant toward alcohol gulps a few drinks, he or she develops a stuffy and a leaky nose. This happens either due to a congestion in the sinus cavity or due to a high concentration of histamine in the alcoholic beverages.

Flushed face or body

A deficiency in the ALDH2 gene or enzyme results in a high concentration of acetaldehyde, which causes a pinkish red flush on the face or on the body. This allergic reaction can be attributed to a sharp rise in the blood pressure triggered by high acetaldehyde levels.


Some people develop warm scratchy bumps on the skin as soon as they consume alcohol. These are known as hives caused by acetaldehyde and histamine in the body.


Alcohol exerts a vasodilatory effect on the gut. This means that it facilitates the absorption of food allergens such as gluten and wheat, ingredients commonly found in beer. One can opt for gluten-free alcoholic beverages for symptom alleviation. Stomachache is often accompanied with diarrhea.

Racing heartbeat

Alcohol causes tachycardia, or an increase in the heartbeat, in the intolerant individuals. However, if this increase is abnormally high every time one consumes alcohol, one should consult a physician to rule out alcohol allergy, which can have serious repercussions, if left undetected.

Recovery and rehabilitation

Alcohol destroys relationships, professional prowess, social circle and financial stability. It takes the life of a person to a downward spiral. Alcohol consumption is linked with multiple disorders, such as different types of cancers, liver damage, anemia, poor pregnancy outcomes, eye disorders, cardiovascular disorders, gout, pancreatitis, dementia, among others. In addition, driving under the influence of alcohol can result in serious accidents and fatal injuries.

Alcohol, regardless of the amount consumed, can be dangerous for both physical and mental health. So, if you or any of your loved one is addicted to alcohol, contact the Alcohol Addiction Helpline of California to know more about the best alcohol rehab centers in California. Call our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1715 or chat online to connect to the best alcohol addiction treatment facilities in California, where the majority of cases related to alcoholism have been successfully treated.

Also read:

Alcoholic pancreatitis detrimental to health

Adverse effects of binge drinking on human body

Moderate alcohol use linked to heart chamber damage and atrial fibrillation finds study

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