Do you feel bad after the first drink of alcohol? What if you were allergic to the drink? It is possible to be intolerant to alcohol, according to Dr. Julien Cottet, allergist and vice president of the French Society of Allergology.
Even the slightest drink of alcohol makes you feel bad and think that you are probably allergic to the drink. Is it possible ? TipsForWomens chose to interview Dr Julien Cottet, allergist, to see more clearly.
Alcohol allergy does not exist, intolerance does!
So is it possible to be allergic to alcohol? “No,” the doctor replies clearly. “You cannot be allergic to a substance other than a protein. And alcohol doesn’t contain any. It will therefore not be an allergic type reaction, with the immune system racing, as occurs in classic food allergies. he explains first of all.
“On the other hand, it is possible to be intolerant to alcohol, due to a deficiency or absence in the body of a particular enzyme: aldehyde dehydrogenase.”
What are the symptoms of this intolerance?
This intolerance to alcohol creates symptoms of discomfort with the slightest drink drunk. “Patients turn red, they feel a sensation of heat and dizziness… A general malaise which makes them say that they are allergic to alcohol” adds our expert. “This is particularly the case among people of Asian origin. And since the enzyme responsible for breaking down alcohol does not exist or does it poorly, the symptoms are accentuated and quickly felt, due to the accumulation of the substance in the body. We are also talking about Asian Flush Syndrome.
The particular case of sulphites in wine
Other people say they are allergic to wine or rather to the sulphites it contains. But for Dr Cottet, it is more complex than that. “In the case of sulphites, certain studies have attempted to demonstrate the allergenic power of this substance. However, when these people are hospitalized and subjected to large doses of sulphites, nothing happens. Whereas outside, at home, by consuming much lower doses, they present allergic symptoms. describes the doctor.
“It is estimated that it is a much more complex allergy, which is not necessarily linked to the dose, but to reactions of the body in the presence of other molecules, but it is not yet very clear, scientifically speaking”.
Alcohol, a co-factor in allergies
Finally, however, the doctor recommends that people with allergies be careful with alcohol. “It can be an allergy co-factor, meaning that it potentiates the allergic reaction, when present.“. Before adding an example. “A person allergic to wheat can eat a pizza and have no reaction. On the other hand, if they add alcohol to their meal, the allergic reaction will be triggered. It is therefore difficult to sort things out for patients. “ concedes the doctor, who recommends that people with allergies remain vigilant regarding the drink.