Alcoholic Drink, But Beware It Can Worsen Your Allergy


Alcoholic Drink
Alcohol, smoking can trigger reactions or make allergies worse, say allergists at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) in Boston, November 3 to 8.
While moderate alcohol consumption is now considered good for health, beware that your immune system may not be compatible with the ingredients that go into your alcoholic drink.
Reactions can be triggered by naturally occurring ingredients in beer and wine, including barley, ethanol, grapes, histamine, hops, malt, oats, tryptamine, tyramine, wheat, and yeast. Other potential allergens may be introduced to beer and wine during processing, including egg whites, which are sometimes used as a filtering agent, and sulfites, which occur naturally in wine but also may be added as a preservative.
"Although it's rare, allergies to alcohol can cause symptoms such as red, itchy eyes, nasal congestion, upset stomach and difficulty breathing," said allergist Sami Bahna, MD, ACAAI past president, and chief of Allergy and Immunology at Louisiana State University Medical School in Shreveport. "In most cases, simply understanding what triggers the allergic reaction will help the person find an alternative drink to enjoy."
Allergic reactions to alcohol can produce minor symptoms such as rash, or life-threatening reactions including asthma attacks and anaphylaxis.
According to Dr. Bahna, wine, particularly red wine, contains chemicals called tyramines that commonly cause headache.
"Individuals can be allergic to the alcohol itself or an added ingredient, but even when people are not allergic, they may not realize that alcohol can worsen existing allergy symptoms, particularly food allergies," Dr. Bahna added.
Similar to diagnosing a food allergy, Dr. Bahna explains, once an allergist helps someone pinpoint which allergens are causing a reaction, simply avoiding the beverage is the best solution.
Dr. Bahna also shared research related to tobacco smoke and its effect on allergic disease.
Tobacco smoke is a strong irritant that can not only worsens asthma, it can also affect seasonal allergy sufferers.
Studies show that exposure to smoke can enhance sensitivity to airborne substances like pollen and mold spores, which wreak havoc during spring and fall allergy seasons each year.
"The health risks of tobacco smoke are widespread whether your exposure is a result of active smoking, passive exposure through second-hand smoke, or indirect exposure from pregnant mother to her unborn child," said Dr. Bahna. "People with allergies and asthma should be especially careful to avoid any exposure to tobacco smoke."
Those who suspect they have reactions to alcohol, food, or tobacco should be evaluated by an allergist—a doctor who is an expert in diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma.
To learn about allergies and asthma, take a free relief self-test or find an allergist near you visit www.AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

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