Alcohol, Asthma and Allergies Don't Mix11/07/11
SUNDAY, Nov. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Alcoholic beverages can
trigger allergic reactions or exacerbate existing allergies,
Though rare, some people have allergies to the alcohol itself,
while others are allergic to various substances in alcoholic drinks
such as beer and wine, Dr. Sami Bahna, past president of the
American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and
chief of Allergy and Immunology at Louisiana State University
Medical School in Shreveport, La., said in an ACAAI news release.
Symptoms may include red, itchy eyes, nasal congestion, upset
stomach and difficulty breathing.
Triggers can include various ingredients in beer and wine,
including barley, ethanol, grapes, malt, hops, wheat and yeast.
Other potential allergens are sometimes added during processing,
including egg whites, which may be used during the filtering
process, and sulfites, which occur naturally in wine but also may
be added as a preservative.
Allergic reactions to an alcoholic beverage can range in
severity from a minor rash to a life threatening asthma attack and
anaphylaxis. The researchers pointed out alcohol could also
aggravate existing allergies.
"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," noted Bahna. "In these cases, the study pointed out, avoiding alcoholic beverages is the best way to avoid potential reactions."
Wine contains chemicals called tyramines, which can cause
headaches, he added.
Bahna is slated to discuss case studies of alcohol-related
allergic reactions Sunday at the annual meeting of ACAAI in Boston.
He also pointed out that exposure to tobacco smoke can worsen
asthma and allergies by making smokers more sensitive to airborne
substances, like pollen and mold spores.
"People with allergies and asthma should be especially careful to avoid any exposure to tobacco smoke," Bahna said.
Anyone who suspects they had a reaction to alcohol, food or
tobacco should see an allergist, Bahna recommended.
"In most cases, simply understanding what triggers the allergic reaction will help the person find an alternative drink to enjoy," Bahna said.
The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology provides
more information on
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