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Dr. Chip
Dr. Chip, Doctor (MD)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 31650
Experience:  Over 20 yrs of Family Practice
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I am a moderate drinker but I have reason to believe I've

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I am a moderate drinker but I have reason to believe I've developed an allergy to alcohol. All types of alcoholic beverages have started causing an immediate reaction where my brain seems to swell and my head feels tight and uncomfortable. The next day, I always feel hungover even if I just had a single beer or glass of wine.
If this is an allergy to alcohol, is there any way to eliminate the allergy or desensitize myself to it through injections? I'm willing to take pretty extreme measures to solve this as not being able to drink at all has played havoc on my social life.
Hi--is this more of a problem with just one type of alcoholic beverage?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

It seems to be a little worse with whiskey and wine. Beer seems to be slightly less severe, but it's a subtle difference. All types have the effect to some extent.

OK--and how long has this been going on? Just as an aside, does it happen with vodka or gin?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

It's been about a year. It came on gradually over the course of a few months and I started cutting back further and further until now I can't drink a single drop if I want to feel okay the next day.

It does happen with vodka and gin. Hard liquor in general seems to cause the effect faster than beer. Sometimes I'm able to drink a single beer and feel mostly ok, although it still gives me a faint headache.

I know it's not a regular hangover because I'm drinking such small amounts I'm barely even feeling a buzz, and I've tried drinking absurd quantities of water with the alcohol--like 8 glasses to 1 glass of beer--just to eliminate the dehydration possibility, but no effect.

Just one more question--how soon after you drink do you get the reaction?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I usually feel a vague discomfort in my head the moment the alcohol starts to "kick in." I still feel the "buzz," but it's accompanied by a feeling of heaviness and soreness. Even if I have my drink early in the evening, like 6:00 pm, it will remain until I go to sleep hours later, then it seems to transform into the traditional hangover--headache, sore neck and head muscles, foggy thoughts--while I sleep.

Sorry for the delay. Any allergies that you already have?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Nothing that I'm aware of, other than grass and dust mites. I tested negative for allergies to any of the major ingredients in beer and liquor.
OK--sorry for the delay and we can continue after this. I was trying to see if your reaction was like the usual "allergy" and really to the additives in the alcoholic beverage, such as the yeast or hops in beer or the grains in whiskey but since this happens with everything, it would seem that you've developed an allergy to alcohol itself. You should see an allergist for specific testing and it may be that you can be desensitized with injections. In the meantime, you could try a Claritin or Zyrtec on a daily basis in an attempt to offset the reaction you have to alcohol
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