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Allergies

Wondering if I am allergic to alcohol?

09/14/2007

Question:

I am 33 year old woman with no known allergies. I am not an avid drinker, but do not mind having the occasional wine cooler, etc. In the past year, I have had 3 occasions where I have had consumed small amounts of alcohol. I have had a drink with Vodka, a drink of a Margareta, and tonight less than half of a Smirnoff wine cooler. I never finish these drinks and sometimes it is only a drink that I take. The symptoms I am having is itching, my scalp just feels like it is crawling, my checks itch, and tonight was the worst, the inside of my check got a little swollen, my tongue itched, my eyes itched, it last about an hour. Alcohol is does not play a big part in my life and so not drinking is no problem. It is definalty not worth going through the discomfort I am experiencing. I am just wondering if I am allergic.

Thanks!

Answer:

It sounds like you are reacting to something but it may not be the alcohol rather something the alcohol is made from or with.  More information would be required to determine the specific cause.  For example if you have underlying allergies to trees it is possible you are experiencing something called the oral itch syndrome where people get the types of symptoms you are experiencing as a result of eating or drinking something that contains potatoes, carrots, tree fruits (apple, peach...) as these fruits and vegetables contain the same allergens found in tree pollen.  Further evaluation would be required by a board-certified internal medicine trained allergist/immunologist to determine what is occurring.

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Response by:

Jonathan   Bernstein, MD Jonathan Bernstein, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati