ZocdocAnswersDo I have an allergy to alcohol?

Question

Do I have an allergy to alcohol?

I had two drinks last night. This is the first time I have really had any alcohol in at least 4ish years. I am just not a drinker and neither is my husband. These drinks were mixed and really weak yet after the first one I was already feeling it a little, so I just sipped the second one. About 30ish minutes later I was flushed, had a fever of 100.2, and had a stabbing pain in my left upper chest. My heart beat was racing and my blood pressure was up. I don't think I have every had this reaction in the past to alcohol. And considering the small amount I had, I was having all these symptoms and wasn't even drunk. I could still articulate my feelings, walk, and everything. It was just these symptoms that were throwing me off. Could this be an allergy to alcohol or something? I am just very unsure. I, of course, am not going to drink again, but I am very curious to find out why all of that happened.

Answer

It seems that the symptoms that you are describing are more consistent with a very sensitive bodily reaction to alcohol rather than a true alcohol allergy. I recommend discussing this concern with your primary care doctor. I would be curious to know if you had any type of rash on your body after drinking? Also, did you have any tongue or throat swelling? The word allergic is used often to describe any sensation that makes you not feel "quite right," but a true allergy usually manifests with a rash, swelling of the tongue, mouth, or throat. In extreme cases it can be associated with a high heart rate and often a drop in blood pressure (this is when people are in anaphylaxis). Alcohol is not a very common allergen in food. That being said, many people have varying levels of sensitivity to it, and from what you described it sounds like you may be very sensitive. There is also a very rare condition that can be associated with an unpleasant sensation with alcohol consumption called mast cell disorder. If you have other symptoms, I would check in with your primary care doctor about this possibility. My recommendation would be to take note of the type of alcohol you drank and to avoid that in future given the unpleasant sensation it caused. In addition, I would follow up with your primary care doctor to make sure that the fever that you had isn't related to another infection that you may be having (such as sore throat or a pneumonia). Finally, if you have stabbing pains in your chest again that do not subside immediately, please see a doctor or go to the nearest emergency room if you are concerned.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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