Alcohol sniffles: myth or truth?

The Christmas season attracts with social get-togethers with mulled wine, punch and one or more glasses of wine. Whether it’s red or white wine, some people experience nasal congestion after drinking alcohol. But what is alcohol sniffles and why do some people react this way to alcohol?

Not only wine, but also other alcoholic beverages such as beer or liquor can trigger alcohol sniffles.

Alcohol sniffles – what is it?

While the hangover can occur the next morning after drinking alcohol, alcohol sniffles are an acute problem. A watery nasal mucus develops, the nose runs frequently, but can also be blocked. In addition, the skin can  itch , and headaches are also possible.

Alcohol sniffles or alcohol allergies – what’s the difference?

Alcohol sniffles are not an allergic reaction to alcoholic beverages. Alcohol sniffles are caused by vasomotor rhinitis. This is an inflammation of the nasal mucosa, which is based on a malfunction of the blood vessels in the nasal conchae.

Alcohol consumption causes dilated blood vessels, including those in the nasal mucosa. This then swells – the consequences:

  • stuffy nose
  • swollen mucous membranes
  • difficult nasal breathing

If the alcohol in the blood is broken down, the symptoms also decrease. Since alcohol sniffles are a reaction to the drink per se, it is not contagious.

Most allergic reactions to alcohol are histamine intolerance. Histamine is found in various foods, including red and white wine. In the case of intolerance, the activity of the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO), which is responsible for breaking down histamine, is reduced.

Symptoms of histamine intolerance:

In addition to red wine and other alcoholic beverages, cheese, tuna and chocolate can also trigger an allergic reaction. People with a pollen allergy may also be more sensitive to histamine.

In the event of problems, medical advice should be sought and  allergy-  causing foods should be avoided.

In addition to histamine intolerance, Christmas spices can also cause cross-reactions and allergies, especially during the Christmas season.

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