Signs Your Hangover Is Actually Alcohol Intolerance

When you have a few too many drinks, you might expect to wake up with a hangover and have nausea, a headache and extreme thirst. But you might not expect to experience these symptoms — along with flushed cheeks and a stuffy nose — after a single alcoholic beverage.

It can happen, however, and it might signal that you’re developing an alcohol intolerance, which doctors say can arise seemingly out of nowhere. Even if you’ve never had a problem drinking a couple of glasses of wine or a martini or two, one day you might find that these drinks hit a little differently.

“It comes up a fair amount,” Jeffrey Factor, an allergist-immunologist and fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, told HuffPost. “In reality, an alcohol intolerance is different from an alcohol allergy. Alcohol intolerances are much more common than a true alcohol allergy.”

Your symptoms could be triggered by the alcohol itself, or by other ingredients or chemicals found in alcoholic beverages, like wheat, barley, yeast or histamine, explained Rani Maskatia, an allergist-immunologist and medical director of Latitude Food Allergy Care.

“This is even further complicated when you talk about cocktails, which can be mixed with anything,” said Trevor Craig, corporate director of technical training and consulting at Microbac Laboratories, an independent testing lab.

If you start feeling unwell after drinking just a small amount of booze, you might want to get to the bottom of what’s going on. The only way to truly know is to see an allergist, Maskatia said.

Here are some things to know about the difference between an alcohol allergy and an intolerance, why you might suddenly experience symptoms after drinking, and what to do about it.

What’s the difference between an alcohol allergy and an intolerance? 

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