Lab Cat

27 Mar 2007

Beer Allergies

Filed under: Food, Health — Cat @ 12:37 pm

After drinking beer or wine I sometimes suffer from a severe sinusitis headache. This is only after one drink; so it is not a hang over. With wine, I thought it was caused by sulphites[*]. I worked with S(IV) oxospecies for over six years; my advisor and I joked that the number of times I sneezed could be plotted against S(IV) concentration. This would save time analyzing the concentration, but we did not think we would get it past reviewers.

Perhaps at this point I should indicate that I do have what I call allergies. My allergist calls them sensitivities as I had no response to common allergens when tested using the skin prick test. However, I sneeze violently when faced with hyacinths, Japanese honeysuckle, tea tree oil, some citrus oils and other perfumes. I loathe feathers in pillows. People with strong perfume or perfumed aftershave or deodorant must assume that I always sneeze. I take, daily, Singulair to keep the mucus from building up in my nasal passages and Claritin [actually a generic alternative] to stop me sneezing and my eyes being sore. I regularly get sinus headaches; my Dad gets these a lot too. We’ve both been told that we suffer from non-allergic rhinitis[†]. Fortunately, the headaches are typically and thankfully controlled by ibuprofen.

So as I have written a couple of posts on beer aging, I thought I would explore the real reason for my sensitivity to alcoholic drinks. Thanks to Web of Science I found some interesting and conflicting information. Below is a summary based on the abstracts[‡]. Apparently, intolerance symptoms include not only headache[§] but also blushing of the face, nasal congestion, respiratory distress including asthma, diarrhea and other defects in intestinal function. Some people even get anaphylactic shock.

The major cause of the pseudo-allergic response appears to be histamine and other biogenic amines in beer or wine. It is not so much the histamine content itself but histamine intolerance sufferers have lower diamine oxidase levels in their intestines (Wantke, Gotz et al, 1993).

Histamine and other biogenic amines are formed in beer during both the malting and fermentation stages (Gasarasi, Kelgtermans et al 2003). Specialty beers, especially sour beers and beers produced by mixed cultures, are particularly prone to the formation of biogenic amines. Other food high in histamine include chocolate, cheese, fish, hard cured meat (salami) and pickled cabbage.

Administering histamine by either subcutaneous or intravenous injection, orally or by inhalation triggered headaches (Steinbrecher and Jarisch, 2005). Histamine free diets reduced the incidence of headache in two of the studies that I found (Steinbrecher and Jarisch, 2005 and Jarisch and Wankte, 1996). However a metastudy (Jansen, van Dusseldorp et al 2003) of all available data concluded:

The current scientific literature shows no relation between oral ingestion of biogenic amines and food intolerance. There is no scientific basis for dietary recommendations concerning biogenic amines…

Another study found no significant differences in plasma histamine even when low histamine wine was consumed. Plasma histamine levels increased whether or not the wine consumed was high or low in histamines (Kanny, Gerbaux et al 2003). This suggests that another factor may be responsible for the pseudo-allergic response to alcoholic beverages.

Ethanol, itself, might trigger sensitivity reactions. Oral challenges with pure ethanol caused hypersensitivity reactions in six out of eleven patients (Ehlers, Hipler et al, 2002). Additionally, ethanol was indicated as a promoter of hypersensitivity reactions to certain allergens (Gonzalez-Quintela, Vidal et al 2004). I’ve known for a long time[**] that ethanol acts as a vasodilator – that is it causes the capillaries to expand. This is why you are warned not to drink alcoholic beverages when suffering from hypothermia. I wonder if ethanol causes the capillaries in the nasal passages to expand giving more surface area for allergens to get in? One study suggests that ethanol triggers sensory neurons in such a way to also trigger a neurogenic response such as asthma (Trevisani, Gassieri et al., 2004).

The inability to metabolize acetaldehyde has been indicated in alcohol intolerance. This is the reason why many Asians are sensitive to alcohol. Acetaldehyde is also responsible for many hangover symptoms.

So is there a solution? I need to find out which beers and wines are most likely to cause a headache. Unfortunately, the thought of having a headache is frequently an inhibitor to my alcoholic beverage consumption. Perhaps next time I drink, I should note what I drank and what symptoms I have afterwards. Alternatively, perhaps I’ll stick to hard cider; I’ve never noticed a problem when I am drinking that.

Scrumpy Jack any one?

Scrumpy Jack

Cheers!

References

Ehlers, Hipler et al., 2002 Clinical and Experimental Allergy 32: 1231

Gasarasi, Kelgtermans et al., 2003 Monatsschrift Fur Brauwissenschaft 56: 58

Gonzalez-Quintela, Vidal et al., 2004 Addition Biology 9: 195

Jansen, Dusseldorp et al., 2003 Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology 91: 233

Jarisch and Wantke 1996 International Archives and Immunology 110: 7

Kanny, Bauza et al., 1997 Revue Francaise D’Allegologie et D’Immunologie Clinique 37:381

Kanny, Gerbaux et al., 2001 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 107: 375

Steinbrecher and Jarisch 2005 Allergologie 28: 85

Trevisani, Gazzieri et al., 2005 Journal of Pharmocology and Experimental Therapeutics 309: 1167

Vally and Thompson 2003 Addiction Biology 8: 3

Wantke, Gotz et al., 1993 Hautarzt 44: 512


[*] I stick to the British English spelling. It looks more dignified than sulfite.

[†] Which I interpret to meaning, you are allergic to something but it is not anything obvious. At least that we (i.e. our physicians) can work out.

[‡] I know this is not good research policy but this is meant to be a introduction and summary. Non-scientists should be aware that abstracts are notorious for being full of errors.

[§] Headaches apparently have different names. I call them sinus headaches or sinusitus. I think these have different defintions each side of the Atlantic or perhaps just in the Davies household. In the literature I also saw vasomotor headaches, which I think is the same thing I am calling sinus headache. Migraines are also included in the generic term headache.

[**] I know this to be true and cannot be bothered to find a reference to back it up.

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105 Comments »

  1. Very informative. I get the blushing of the face and warm face symptom after drinking beer, but none of the others fortunately. And, it does not happen every time. Hmmmm, so I guess I am sensitive only some of the time. I am glad I don’t get headaches, I get enough sinus headaches with regular allergies.

    Comment by Lisa — 27 Mar 2007 @ 4:49 pm

  2. Fascinating! I have horrible year-round allergies but no problem with beer or any of the foods you listed.

    Comment by Ψ*Ψ — 27 Mar 2007 @ 6:49 pm

  3. I want to try Scrumpy Jack. Have to hit the stores this weekend to see if someone has a can or two…

    Comment by sri — 28 Mar 2007 @ 2:39 pm

  4. Sri

    Let me know if you find it in the US.

    Ψ*Ψ

    I didn’t have allergies until I moved the US. At one point after being here for about a year, I thought I was allergic to the US.

    Year round allergies are the pits.

    Lisa

    Fortunately, Friday’s beer didn’t affect me. Yay for Iron Hill Brewery.

    Comment by Cat — 28 Mar 2007 @ 3:31 pm

  5. Fascinating! I was also diagnosed with non-allergic rhinitis several years ago (as well as a ragweed allergy), and have to medicate myself year-round to avoid nasty headaches.

    My face also gets red when I drink any kind of alcohol, and I noticed a few years ago that my allergic symptoms seemed to worsen after a beer or two. I blamed the hops, but I like the amine explanation better.

    Is the Iron Hill Brewery you refer to the one in Newark, DE, by any chance? I have some fond memories of that place!

    Comment by Liz — 11 Apr 2007 @ 4:44 pm

  6. I have for the last few months had nasal congestion (sometimes a few sneezes) usually twenty minutes after drinking a beer.

    Someone told me to drink ice filtered beers (ice beers).

    Less histamines?

    I never use to have this problem. I don’t get headaches, rashes or any other symptoms.

    Strange..

    Comment by Paul — 21 Apr 2007 @ 2:19 pm

  7. I can’t drink alcohol or eat things with alcohol in them. A tablespoon of rum stirred into a bowl of pudding for flavor has me redfaced and dizzy, dealing with a sudden, irresistable headache and nausea. Eating a classic cheese fondue (wine base, finished with kirsch) gave me a headache within four bites.

    I can cook with wine and beer, as long as the sauce is boiled. Given that the overall reaction happens to all manner of things; rum, beer, wine, etc. I’ll just assume it’s the alcohol in it.

    Amusingly, I still make wine. My friends drink, as does my husband. I just have someone else actually do the tasting, and I have to be careful about putting my face too close over the brewing bucket when setting up the siphon.

    Comment by Alexandra Lynch — 9 May 2007 @ 9:00 am

  8. Take a look at the above site for more information

    Comment by Provman — 23 May 2007 @ 3:37 pm

  9. i get rashes & red face whenever i drink…pls help!

    Comment by bird — 3 Jun 2007 @ 1:00 pm

  10. Glad to hear there is someone out there like me. I had a hunch for the longest time and have recently been watching what happens when I drink beer. Every time, even after one or two, I get so congested. I am absolutely convinced and am going to abstain from alcohol for a while to confirm. The unfortunate thing is that its summer and what goes better on a hot day after work than a nice cold beer!! Wish me luck!!! p.s. Just yesterday I picked up a bottle of the Sinus Busters Nasal spray (www.sinusbusters.com or http://www.sinusbusters.ca. Going to give that a try too.

    Comment by Heavenly — 7 Jun 2007 @ 10:37 am

    • Am sitting here at the rock bottom brewery, unable to breath through my nose. Am drinking a double IPA and realized the last 3 times I was here I had the same peoblem! Don’t notice it so much with their house IPA. Guess I’ll have to stick to that?

      Comment by rosalind — 24 Feb 2014 @ 6:18 pm

  11. Same here, an hour after beers thick clear mucus emanate from the sinuses. Luckily nothing else happens. Happens mostly with the kind I drink – pilsner. I’m 40 and this didn’t happen 2 years ago… oh well

    Comment by Beerto Mynose — 28 Jun 2007 @ 6:11 pm

  12. This seems to be turning into one of my most popular posts.

    Interestingly about two months after writing this post, I had a homebrew. One of my students bought it to the end of year party and so I wanted to try it. It took about a three days before I was over it! It was very tasty too. So sad.

    I’ve drunk a few glasses of wine since (not all in one evening) and their effect was not too bad but I’m not persuaded that it was worth it in their case. Perhaps if it had been Gewürztraminer or Wolf Blass would make it worthwhile.

    I still haven’t experimented with cider yet.

    Comment by Cat — 29 Jun 2007 @ 11:29 am

  13. Hmmm, very interesting to read.
    I’ve only recently started drinking. Whenever I do, it’s either Bulmer’s or Magner’s cider. A couple of the times, I’ve encountered the face blush and the affected skin feels tighter than normal. However, I have never encountered allergic reactions to anything before in my life. It’s such a shame, because I find cider such a nice drink to have, but can’t because my mother fears that next time, the reaction will worsen and possibly have even more dangerous side-effects

    Comment by AJSmithy — 11 Jul 2007 @ 9:11 am

  14. This is interesting that many people have this problem. I am curruntly suffering from sinsitus, as I didn’t catch it fast enough. I blame this completly on the 8 bees I drank the other night. This happens quite often when I drink lots of beer. you’d think I would have learnt my lesson now.

    I had a suspicuin that I was allergic to alcohol a few years ago. Then I discovered that my grandma on my mothers side has exactly the same problem. Interesting, very interesting I thought.

    I tried drinking cider (strongbow) instead, thinking it was the beer. But all the addative and extra sugar made it worse. I gues I will have to stick with hard drugs instead.

    :o) Phil

    Comment by Phil — 20 Jul 2007 @ 11:31 am

  15. It sounds to me like you have and intolerance to acetaldehyde, given your symptoms.

    -Ross-

    Comment by Ross — 1 Aug 2007 @ 2:21 pm

  16. Wow!
    I´ve been getting an inkling that something wasn´t right after my cold San Miguel after work… I´d suddenly be talking to someone with full-on mid-cold bunged up nose!

    It´s crossed my mind to try Cider too… here in Spain there are some nice light ones that are more like drinking Cava or Champagne!

    After reading your comments I feel relieved it´s not all in my head… I seem to be allergic all year round… will go and check out with some tests… it just feels so pathetic!

    Thanks
    Debbie

    Comment by Debaixa — 29 Sep 2007 @ 8:36 am

  17. [...] most popular post is on Beer Allergies. Why? At least it is a Food Science post. Most of my posts have been my photos. I have posted less [...]

    Pingback by Happy Blogaversary to Me! Open thread. « Lab Cat — 15 Oct 2007 @ 9:02 am

  18. My husband has recently also noticed an allergic-type reaction when he drinks beer/wine. He gets a “stuffy” nose (congested) – it’s really weird because this only recently happened (few years) – He never used to have ANY problems drinking beer or wine in previous years. This is a great blog – ’cause just when you think you’re alone with some “weird” problem you realize so many other people are experiencing the same thing! Unfortunately, unless someone can come up with some type of non-allergenic beer/wine – he’ll either have to abstain or suffer the nuisance of an instantly stuffy nose if he chooses to drink. It would make sense to take some type of antihistamine beforehand – but labeling always suggests not “drinking” while taking that/any type of med – and certainly most importantly should NOT drive due to the possibility of “drowsiness”. I guess it’s just a NO-WIN situation there.

    Comment by TRA — 22 Oct 2007 @ 2:19 pm

  19. The same thing happend to me has I moved to Germany from Canada. Starting to drink more beer… Well beer, wine and cider do not only contains Histamine, but they also contains the Histamino-liberator (Ethanol). Basically, beer having less Histamine are the Bottom-Fermented one (Pils, Lager, Bock, Cold Pressed… See following link : http://www.koff.fi/en/the_world_of_beer/the_essentials_of_beer.html).

    I started taking antihistamine beforehand (One hour) and it made all symptoms desapear. Use one of these Type-H1 (Astemizol, Cetirizin, Loratidin, Terfenadin) as they are best suited for HIT (Histamine Intolerence). They do not interfered with Alcohol so its OK. What you should know is also that there are a lot a food that you should avoid as well : Sausage, ketchup, tomato, sojasauce, egg, fish, some cheese… They all contains high level of Histamine, so if you mix with beer… You have a list here: http://sun1.awardspace.com/Conditions/Solar_Urticaria/histamine_diet.htm

    If you have itching, headache, nose sneezing… after having a beer, you have probably an Histamine Intolerence. Then you can take antihistamine or modify your diet by eating food having less histamine/liberator and more with Vitamine B6, B12, C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese and Methionine. See next link for more info: http://www.diagnose-me.com/cond/C447056.html.

    There is also a natural form of antihistamine which is Quercetin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quercetin. This is found in very limited plants and fruits, but i have recently bought dried Lovage which contains high level of Quercetin, it’s a spice you put in soup normally. I make tisane out of it and drink it everyday. It works fine for me, but taste like… celery soup. Last link to the best document I have found on the topic HIT, but it’s in german (You can translate it in google): http://www.iug-umwelt-gesundheit.de/pdf/072_47_56_SP_HIT_neu.pdf. Good luck, it does absolutely feel better when you know what you have!

    Comment by Alex — 31 Oct 2007 @ 9:36 am

  20. [...] Beer Allergies [...]

    Pingback by Here’s something I can cope with « Lab Cat — 3 Nov 2007 @ 8:01 pm

  21. Finally, I found validation for what I’ve been thinking for the last year. Whatever alcholic beverage I drink, within an hour my nose is completely stopped up, I have a headache and I get what I can only call some type of hot flash (i’m only 35). My entire body, especially my hands and feet, becomes extremely hot and I swell up. Most of the time I swell up so much I have to take off any rings or my watch. The headache is the worst because no OTC drug can touch it. Sleep is the only way to get rid of it. Sam Adams hits me the hardest. With any Sam Adams beer the symptoms hit me within about 10 minutes. Since I’m the only one of my friends that has a problem, its very nice to know its not just me.

    Comment by Dee — 3 Dec 2007 @ 7:19 pm

  22. Excellent article and site .your piece is a great resource to the online audience. Please when you have time check out my site with many articles like seasonal allergies http://allergieshelp.blogspot.com

    Comment by ray nwam — 23 Dec 2007 @ 1:11 am

  23. What a fascinating column. In grad school I started noticing that I was getting some very mean hangovers, and getting them even when I had just one or two beers. Then the hangovers got awful, just terrible, pounding headaches and sinus pressure and my face got flushed and it was miserable.

    The last straw was when I was out at a microbrewery for lunch, and I had a dark beer with my food. 30 minutes later I felt bad, 45 minutes later I felt awful, and an hour later I was driving the porcelin bus.

    In a feat of pure science, damn the consequences, two weeks later I sit down, crack open a Miller Lite, and I take two sips. 30 minutes later, bad headache and sinus pressure. Yep, it’s beer.

    I belong to Kaiser Permanente, and I go to an allergist to talk about this. I want to find out what’s wrong, if there’s any beer I can drink, what in beer in making me sick. I sit down with the allergist and describe all of the above. And, God bless him, in true HMO fashion, he says, “So when you drink beer you get a terrible headache, sinus pressure, and a flushed face?” “Yes,” I reply. “Well then, don’t drink beer.”

    Comment by Matt — 3 Feb 2008 @ 3:20 pm

  24. [...] last interested me. I have already discussed the problems I have when drink alcoholic beverages, especially beer, but I also have OAS in [...]

    Pingback by Food Allergies « Lab Cat — 8 Feb 2008 @ 8:04 am

  25. I have had serious allergies to pollen and grasses for 7 years now. I have been on immunotherapy (twice-weekly shots) for this for 3 years. I have developed nasal polyps and will exentually need surgery.

    Ironically, after the 1st year of shots I developed this intolerance to alcohol (at age 41). My upper sinus passages get very swollen and huge sinus pressure after about 10 minutes after my first sip. But it only lasts about 30 minutes after my last sip. The longer I drink, the more severe and long-lasting the effects.

    Couple things I’ve learned:

    1> My allergist thinks the alcohol intolerance may be triggered by the immunotherapy! He is going to do a nationwide study on this…how many of you have the ‘shots’ also?

    2> Straight vodka with soda water seems to effect me less that any other alcohol.

    3> Psudofed, Nasonex and and antihistamine taken an hour before drinking will lesson the hit – but not for long. Eventually the drinking will override them.

    4> Predisone, which I MUST take 3 times a year for the polyps, taken in liquid form an 2-3 hours before drinking completely eliminates the effects for the longest period of time. But again, the drinks will eventually catch up with me.

    IT SUCKS, IT SUCKS, IT SUCKS, IT SUCKS, IT SUCKS, IT SUCKS! I pity all of us – we must turn to other self-medication that isn’t always legal and much more addicting.

    Comment by JB — 8 Mar 2008 @ 8:25 pm

    • I’m posting this four years after yours, so I don’t know if you’ll get notified of my post. I would love to know what your doctor found out. I started immunotherapy just over a year ago, and now after reading your post it seems like that’s when my problem with alcohol started. I have been assuming it was a wheat allergy, but after reading the book “Wheat Belly” I decided to go gluten-free. Last week I drank a couple of gluten-free beers plus a glass of red wine, but still my sinuses blew up. My allergist thought maybe it was the yeast in any beer. So last night I only drank red wine. My sinuses still blew up.

      If I can’t drink alcohol because of an allergy/intolerance, it’s not the worst thing in the world. I am curious why now, in my mid-40′s, I have become allergic to everything (I tested positive for all allergies including all grasses, trees, animals, molds, etc. which is why I started the shots), including Advil (I used to live on Advil and now it causes my sinuses to blow up), and now alcohol. The last post below (Dec. 2011) mentions “canary in the coal mine), which is something I’ll have to watch.

      Comment by Darin — 31 Mar 2012 @ 6:47 am

  26. Hey guys, I can’t believe that I could have an allergy to beer. Whenever I have more than about 3-4 beers, I suffer for the whole next day…. sneezing, dripping nose, watery eyes, just like a really bad cold. This sucks BIG TIME as I LOVE BEER. Does anyone know what kind of beer I can drink without suffering the next day, because I will not give up my beeeeeer !!!

    Comment by Zelda — 22 Mar 2008 @ 10:07 pm

    • Zelda -

      I have the EXACT symptoms that you have experienced. Did you ever try gluten free beers?

      Comment by david — 2 Nov 2010 @ 8:50 pm

  27. your wine allergy symptoms could be from the sulphites in the wine. Try a organic wine and see if there is any difference.

    Comment by NaturalAllergyRelief — 24 Apr 2008 @ 12:39 am

  28. NaturalAllergyRelief

    I did comment on my reaction sulphites in the first paragraph.

    Comment by Cat — 24 Apr 2008 @ 9:14 am

  29. In medical research it is found that people with High Blood Pressure should avoid drinking beer or any alchohol when too tired or dehydrated or with empty stomach. If someone drinks in this condition may feel heavyness in the head like the head is going to burst out, face skin becomes very tight, hands becomes warmer and feeling of nausea…..

    In severe conditions, someone may get fainted or somekind of stroke..

    Comment by Dr Nick — 2 Sep 2008 @ 5:54 pm

  30. please monitor your blood pressure and keep it maintain within limits through cardio exercise or ayurvedic medications…normal few problems can get worsen..so take it as a warning and avoid such adulterated alcholic drinks, alcohol consumed through dry fruits or vegetables or fruits is healthy and will never have side effects

    Comment by Dr Nick — 2 Sep 2008 @ 5:57 pm

  31. Dr Nick

    Thank you for your information, but I do not have high blood pressure and I do not drink either.

    Comment by Cat — 2 Sep 2008 @ 6:12 pm

  32. I wasnt sure until I read this site, but every time and only when I drink beer I end up having a flushed red face and the next day my sinuses are so congested whether I had one sip of beer or 5 glasses! I’m congested all the way to my ears and causing me to be dizzy…Weird thing is I’ll drink hard alcohol like vodka, amaretto, whisky, rum, tequilla, whatever you name it even wine and I’m fine… but as soon as I touch beer I get all congested other thing is that I was tested for celiacs and dont have that and no other food allergies weird :S

    Comment by Kate — 8 Sep 2008 @ 4:46 pm

  33. Hello,

    I am an otherwise very healthy chronic migraine sufferer managing symptoms w/ blood pressure meds.

    I have noticed the #1 trigger for me is beer (along w/ dehydration, stress, fatigue). I can drink most all liquour and tolerate wine reasonably well, but beer is a real trigger. I also get flushed red skin.

    For some reason, I tolerate Pilsners (I love beer and stupidly keep trying so I’m a good test mule!) and strangely guiness better than others. Wheat and amber beers are the worst

    Typically I can drink a beer, but more is a problem. Unforunately Sometimes a sip (or even a whiff!) can start the process.

    My Mom and uncle have strong allergies as well, to chocolate and peanuts respectively

    Glad to read all this info

    Comment by Migraine's N Beer — 5 Oct 2008 @ 1:09 pm

  34. Has anyone heard of a beer allergy where after about half a glass it starts to feel like large chunks of unchewd food painfully working its way down the throat. It hurts like hell and has be bent over the loo for ages. If anyone has any ideas, I’d love to hear them.
    Hicksy out.

    Comment by Hicksy — 21 Oct 2008 @ 7:55 pm

  35. Hicksy

    That sounds like a severe allergic response causing the throat to swell up.

    I don’t know any solutions to beer allergies. I would be using them if I did.

    Comment by Cat — 23 Oct 2008 @ 7:42 pm

  36. Thanks for this post. I also have an allergy to alcohol and it seems to be particularly bad with beer and wine. It’s hard for me to tell if it’s only to beer and wine or if it’s to other alcoholic drinks as well, but like you, I am way too sensitive (it puts me out for two days) and since my favorite form of alcohol is beer anyway I haven’t been able to experiment. I usually just go for non-alcoholic drinks, but Alex’s idea of taking an anti-Histamine an hour before a beer sounds intriguing. I might try that next time I can afford to be sick for two days (whenever that might be)…..

    Comment by Kaguya — 26 Oct 2008 @ 9:53 am

  37. Wow…alot have the same problem as me…
    First I have sinus problems and had surgery on my sinus to help…it did for awhile but the doctor said it might come back…it did…Beer is mostly a no no with me by a couple of hours I get a sinus headache(hard alcohol I am fine)…I found that wheat ales /dark beers dont always give me a headache…(less hopps)

    but I found one thing that has helped but not cured…the doctor said try taking 500mg of vit C a day and drink one more glass of water…after you think you are not thirsty anymore(this has nothing to do with beer water only). pretty much just stay overly hydrated. This has help and lowered the amount of sinus headaches I get…
    Note: I get a lot of sinus headaches not only alcohol related.

    hope this helps

    Comment by nocturnal — 31 Oct 2008 @ 11:55 pm

  38. when i drink alcohol or eat strong cheese among other things im trying to work out my eye lids itch incesently almost imposible not to rub anti histamine is a help but my lids are left dry and flakey although better than raw this is a knightmare. i get very stuffy in the sinuses and sneeze alot with beer. can anyone help me. its all about the itchy eye lids shocker….

    Comment by james mitchell — 6 Nov 2008 @ 5:58 am

  39. Wow, this turned out to be a great starting point for my research into why I’m getting stuffed-up sinuses when I drink beer. (I came here after googling for “beer congestion,” by the way, and yours is the first result. Congratulations on the unusual SEO! :) )

    Like you said in the OP, it might be interesting to monitor different kinds of beer and see what reactions I have. This has certainly not been a problem all my drinking years, nor is it consistent each time I drink beer. Surely there are complicating factors in the works.

    I was interested by something commenter Dr Nick said above, about drinking while dehydrated. In an example yesterday afternoon, I had a beer after having had a mild hangover from the evening before, and felt severe nasal congestion within 15-20 minutes. Yet I didn’t experience the same severity of symptoms during the previous evening’s drinking — or else I probably wouldn’t have consumed enough to have had the mild hangover in the first place. ;)

    Anyway, I’m curious about the makeup of the beer but I can’t help but think that other circumstances may play a role in determining the reaction, as well.

    Since you wrote this, have you run into additional resources on the subject?

    Thanks for such a well-put-together summary. It’s a good help.

    Comment by Kate O' — 8 Nov 2008 @ 8:34 am

  40. “Apparently, intolerance symptoms include not only headache[§] but also blushing of the face, nasal congestion, respiratory distress including asthma, diarrhea and other defects in intestinal function.”

    For the last few years I have had to completely give up drinking beer and wine because of the horrible reaction I get from it. First I start feeling drowsy, then a sharp pain forms in the center of my face, much like a sinus attack. If I keep drinking the pain intensifies, I become congested, my eye-sockets hurt (plus I feel more light sensitive), and eventually I become nauseated. Often I go home to a sick stomach and diarrhea. A few times I have vomited (in fact, the most severe reaction I’ve ever had was to a Hard Cider with a green apple flavoring– hmmm). It’s difficult to “sleep it off” and ibuprofen and migraine abortive pills do nothing to help. Drinking “sulfite free” and “no sulfites added” organic wines has been OK so far, but I REALLY miss beer.

    Thank you so much for this post. Please keep me informed if you learn anything new. Though my mother is sulfite intolerant and I also show signs of that I have a feeling something else is at play here (especially because most sulfite intolerant folks I know can drink beer and I can’t). The histamine/biogenic amine explanation makes a lot of sense to me because I also have problems with some chocolates, cheeses, and fish (hmmm again).

    Comment by Katharine — 10 Dec 2008 @ 12:59 pm

  41. This is really fascinating, and also refreshing to know that I’m not the only one who suffers these reactions. I typical get at least one sinus headache a week but sometimes as many as 3 or 4 depending on several factors. I almost always get headaches when consuming beer and certain other alcoholic beverages. I could literally drink one 12 oz. bottle of beer and will wake up next morning congested and with an excrutiating headache that will last practically all day. I have found that pale ales and IPA’s are the biggest culprits. Stouts, Porters and darker beers are kind of hit and miss. Sometime I get headaches with them, but not always. I found it very interesting one of the comments above mentioned headaches and hops. Considering that Pale Ales and the like rely more on hops for their flavor whereas Stouts and Porters rely on a balance of hops and malts, this offers some interesting insight into my problem. Just had to comment because I thought there was some really good information here. Good luck to you all in your search for relief.

    Comment by DeVonn Smith — 11 Jan 2009 @ 2:06 pm

    • I have the same theory, that’s what lead me to search online and find this post. I suspect hoppier beers are the culprit in my case – and I can tell within one sip, sometimes, if it’s what I now call “a headache beer.” My head starts tightening up almost immediately and I have finally gotten to the point where if I suspect it’s a headache beer I leave it undrunk and order something else along with a big glass of water to dilute what I’ve already consumed. Good luck to you all – lots of empathy!

      Comment by Sadie — 15 Aug 2011 @ 11:00 pm

  42. Every time I drink I get very congested, but like others have mentioned it is just that my sinuses swell. I thought that was a normal effect of drinking until college.
    Liquor and wine have milder effects on me than beer, I will still feel congested but like you I get excruciating headaches from one beer (draft especially!).
    After having my tonsils removed, taking daily courses of singular and zyrtec, having several steriod shots from severe sinus infections, I finally came across allergy shots. They have been the best thing for me. I still have issues with beer, but my tolerance for most alcohol, animals, and seasons have improved tremendously. In general, I used to get sick and wouldn’t get better until I had mono, strep, sinus infections (I don’t think I ever had “Just a cold”)… but since allergy shots I’ve gotten “a cold” maybe once or twice a year without ending up at the Doc.
    Best of Luck to you, hope you find your cure! It’s absolutely miserable being restricted by “sensitivities” when you know it’s more extreme.

    Comment by Kate — 15 Jan 2009 @ 6:17 pm

  43. Wow, there are others! Ilove beer but get an almost instant sinus headache after one or two.I am 31 and have only had this problem for a year or so.Stronger beers are worst, and light beers take longer for symptoms. This sucks !! I have tried hard cider Woodchuck (dark&dry) but it is still pretty sweet. Does anyone know of a hard cider that tastes more like beer, less sweet. Or is there a kind of beer that works for others with this problem. I have seen gluton-free beer. Anyone tried it? Good luck!

    Comment by c gutzeit — 19 Feb 2009 @ 6:14 pm

  44. Interesting to see others with problems. Usually I drink a beer with no problems.
    Three times, the 1st about 8 years ago, once about 2 years ago and the last, one week ago I’ve had a reaction to a beer, and as little as half a glass. They were always a specialty beer, one a begian, one a wheat and don’t remember the other. Reation to one was watery eyes, one a swollen face, and one a swollen throat and needed a trip to the emergency room.
    Other Wheat beers are ok.
    I’d love to find out why this happens.
    Thanks, this blog is great.

    Comment by Ron — 22 Feb 2009 @ 1:30 am

  45. I tried a beer called Red Bridge it is a gluten-free lauger made by Anheiser-Busch. It’s made without wheat or barley. I drank 4 in a couple of hours with no headaches or sinus troubles. Come to find out there are several brands of beer like this. It is made with Sorghum.I found some stuff online that said 1 in 136 have some allergy to gluten.One site said that a couple years ago a lot of brewing companies started using genetically enhanced or mass produced grains and yeast. This causes a much higher gluten content in beer. So people that never really had a reaction before or are mildly sensitive to gluten are now having reactions to beer. I don’t know if it’s true but, I can drink cider and gluten-free beer with no reaction.Thankfully. Happy drinking.

    Comment by c gutzeit — 22 Feb 2009 @ 10:09 pm

  46. Hi

    I do not think I have a gluten allergy as I can eat bread and other flour products.

    Comment by Cat — 2 Mar 2009 @ 7:41 am

  47. @ c gutzeit: there are some higher-end ciders that are quite dry – dupont is one brand, i’m blanking on the others. also some farmer’s markets offer cider – i know eve’s cidery in new york city has some really dry varieties.

    like everyone else here, i am glad to realize i’m not the only one experiencing these symptoms. mine aren’t as severe – after one beer my sinuses get congested and i can’t smell or taste anything. it’s unfortunate because i seriously love beer and it’s not fun to drink more than one good quality beer if i can’t taste the subtleties. no use switching to liquor, i’m just a beer drinking girl at heart.

    Comment by mysteryship — 6 Mar 2009 @ 11:23 pm

  48. Cool! As a scientist myself (non-biological sciences), I was about to dig through databases to figure out why suddenly, at 49, I am having food and drink allergies. I wanted to have some background work done before I visit my doctor next week. This website was the first to pop up in Google and has been extremely useful from both a technical standpoint as well as a social one. I know I am not alone!

    I know that beer, most wine (except pinot grigio for some reason), dark chocolate, and cheese are triggers for congestion and headaches and minor intestinal issues, but did not know why. I will dig into the references provided and see what else I can learn.

    As an alert to all, I did read that congestion from food allergies can be related to sleep disorders. It appears that some people drink/eat in the evening then go to bed while the histamines and the body are still in a tug o war. The histamines trigger an immune response that inflames cells and also constricts smooth muscles, such as those in the airway. People with food/drink allergies can have both severe nasal congestion and a constricted airway. Laying down makes matters worse as sinus drainage is compromised. So, some people do not breathe sufficiently while they are sleeping, minimizing oxygen intake and inducing sleep apnea type symptoms.

    Comment by vertebrate — 14 Apr 2009 @ 8:40 pm

  49. I have the same problem. My head and sometimes throat feel like they’re filled with cotton anytime I drink most beers. This started happening about 2 years ago.

    I’ve been keeping track of which beers do and don’t cause a reaction for me. I’ve noticed, generally, that very light & cheep beers like budweiser or PBR don’t bother me at all. I don’t know if that is due to being brewed with rice or being the most “watery”. Strangely though, very dark beers – stouts, and guinness in particular – are also fine (and a lot more tasty). Gluten free beer also seems ok.

    Porters can be iffy, depending on the brand, but medium color stuff is pretty bad. The worst by far is anything labelled “wheat beer” or hefewiessen. This makes me think it’s some kind of wheat allergy (though I don’t generally have any allergic reaction to wheat). Maybe its possible to be allergic to something that only occurs in fermented wheat?

    From what I’ve read guinness doesn’t have any wheat in it. Some other stouts do – I’ve seen a “wheat stout” but been afraid to try it. Oatmeal stout causes a mild reaction, but who knows, it could also be using wheat. It’s very hard to tell what the culprit is, since beer isn’t required to list ingredients.

    Personally I think it’s some kind of wheat allergy or an allergy to some byproduct of fermented wheat, interested to see what you come up with. THanks for the post!

    Comment by Gabe — 4 May 2009 @ 2:49 pm

  50. I just recently became super sensitive to wine, beer, vodka, liquers such as peach schnapps etc.Two sips of any of these and I immediately start coughing , sneezing, eyes itch and run and throat itches and ears itch and throat feels like it is closing up. Have to take up to 3 benedryl before it slows down. I have not touched a drop of any alcohol am totally afraid I will go into anaphlatic schock if I drink anything containing alcohol. I tried each of these drinks in about a 3 week period with only two sips each Beer one week, wine for dinner, vodka and cranberry one week and peach schnapps another time. All had the same reaction within less than 2 minutes. Is there any explanation for this sudden allergic reation? Have drank socially before with no problem except redness of face from wine.

    Comment by janice fromal — 2 Aug 2009 @ 7:44 pm

  51. Kenebunkport I.P.A. reasonably priced Nice Hoppy Taste avalibale at Trader joes and best of all no headache Also Stockyard Stout No headache. Tried some Founders Centennial I.P.A. Great taste but five Headaches for five bottles I had to stop the research guess that sixth one will go to a favorite Brother in law! Also my Headache Beer list is Bud light, Miller Light, Labatts of any type and Old Speckled Hen the Research was done one Beer at a time can a guy get some type of Goverment Grant for this ?

    Comment by Kevin — 6 Sep 2009 @ 8:38 am

    • I wish we could get a grant for this kind of research. Thank you for your information. Unfortunately no alcohol sold at Trader Joe (or any supermarket) in my state but I look out for your recommendations.

      Comment by Cat — 7 Sep 2009 @ 9:27 am

  52. [...] As of a few years ago, I realized I was allergic to something in beer. Not all beer, but most beer, after a glass or two will make me feel like my nasal passages are stuffed with cotton and I’ll get a massive headache. Apparently I’m not the only one. [...]

    Pingback by The Trials of Old Age « Blog Archive « Try This at Home — 31 Oct 2009 @ 3:49 am

  53. +1 on the Guiness suggestion. I never get a headache or hangover from drinking Guiness, while one Corona, or glass of wine, can give me a migrane for 2 days.

    Comment by washingtonpta — 9 Nov 2009 @ 4:00 pm

  54. Glad to find this site, I have been dealing with beer allergies for a few years now. I’ve collected much empirical data and found Amstel light, Corona Light, Guiness to be the best, but still produce some mild reaction, ie sinus pressure the next day. Out of my life is Bud Light, natty light, most of the cheaper light beers, heineken, never any pale ales especially sierra nevada, all sorely missed. I’m interested to make a connection of other food intolerances too ie tomato sauce and/or pizza, ketchup, woud like to find out more. Many foods and booze produce much acid reflux too.

    Comment by The Wolfe — 5 Dec 2009 @ 11:11 pm

  55. I started noticing the symptoms a few months back. After half a can of Kronenburg 1664 I get a violent sneezing attack that lasts about 2 minutes and then a blocked up nose and mucus. However, if I persevere and move to the second can – everything settles down. Definitely not a case of less is more !!

    Comment by eggyonekenobi — 12 Dec 2009 @ 3:17 am

  56. I too suffer this problem which started about three years ago. I have found that anti histamine taken before generally alleviates the problem. Two years ago after a heavy night drinking at a friends party I found I was bunged up for a week after. Having visited the doctor I was diagnosed as having a nasal polyp that required steroid nose drops, the doctor confirmed this was bought on by an allergic reaction but didn’t believe that alcohol would be the problem and suggested it was more likely to be seasonal hay fever. Having read all the other comments I now know that this is clearly a problem that many people suffer from but is not necessarily recognised by the medical world.

    Comment by Jimmy2stiks — 18 Dec 2009 @ 4:37 pm

    • I love Miller Lite but notice that if I drink two days in a row, I have major runny nose and sneezing. Is there another beer with less “hops”? Someone told me BUDLITE. I am ready to switch to alcohol as I only drink Miller Lite.

      Comment by Kw7806 — 23 Dec 2009 @ 7:57 pm

  57. Since the allergic reaction may be due to histamines, I tried benadaryl which worked! I was a bit groggy but I would rather have that symptom than the sledge hammer on my brain.

    Comment by KitchenScience — 1 Jan 2010 @ 11:19 pm

  58. I get serious headaches when I drink beer, but I am ok with any kind of liquor(whiskey, etc…)

    Comment by Jean — 23 Jan 2010 @ 3:35 pm

  59. I have noticed that when I drink wheat beers, i dont have the same congestion and headaches. Has anyone else noted this?

    Comment by RAE — 7 May 2010 @ 5:00 pm

  60. Wow I found this website and it helps to explain allot, I too after just one mouth full of my favorite Guiness or Corona get instant headache and sinus problems. I also get slightly swollen hands and feet and if I drink more than one beer this feeling can last for up to 3 days like a hangover but worse. This sucks! I know people have asked but anyone found anything that I can drink as I have not for 6 months then the other night one sip of Corona and bam! here we go again. I just want to have a Extra cold Guiness or beer once in a while. Any
    organic wines or more importantly anything you can actually buy in a pub? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!! Must be something I can have. Anyone got any homebrew suggestions, sure we can come up with something, I hope! By the way if you doctor suggests Nasonex be very very careful, tried it for a month. Type it into search engine and you will see what I mean! Although does work for some people.

    Comment by no more beer! — 9 Jul 2010 @ 8:01 pm

    • your issue sounds like a gluten allergy. do you get this way eating whole wheat or pastas?

      Comment by Adam — 30 Jul 2010 @ 9:46 pm

  61. absolutely fantastic site , great to hear it is not only me who has the smiliar problem , i am 44 now and so far was enjoying myself with1-2 units of beer a day with no trouble next day , now , at least last 6mnths with a small sip or less than half a pint of mainly Tennents , Perona, Heiniken , I am ill all day next day , feel the worse ever possible hangover , dont feel sick though but just ill and mostly lying in bed , went to doctor and was told age makes it , i am not convinced with that and feel that i have an alergy to wheat /gluten ? i really enjoy my drink one or two a day does anyon e knows what other type of beers i can try ,is cider better ? thank you all

    Comment by sheila — 11 Jul 2010 @ 10:25 am

  62. I have found a strange connection between pale brews and sever allergic reactions. Rolling Rock for example causes instantaneous stuffy nose with nasal dripping and shortness of breath. Killian’s Irish red and darker beers cause me no issues so far.

    Comment by Adam — 30 Jul 2010 @ 9:45 pm

  63. Alas, I’m having this problem too. Noticed it just now with a potent IPA. My nose does not drip and I don’t sneeze, it just gets stuffed. It only took a small glass for me to notice.

    It’s not just IPA. Wheat beer I’ve noticed has a negative effect as does most wine for me.

    This problem is probably deeper than “allergies.” Alternative medicines talk of a number of potential causes of this sort of reaction. I’ve read of body-wide, or systemic yeast infections that may be responsible.

    It’s pretty much a rabbit hole. You can spend your life researching on the internet for causes and cures to this sort of thing. I think in the mean time, I’m going to have to accept life without beer. If I must drink (and others have greed) I’ll stick with Vodka and soda.

    I’d also like to put in a word for Sinus Buster, if you can tolerate it (which gets easier). I also use Claritin D (mostly for the D), and find it helpful when I need to suck it up and get some work done and am feeling like crap.

    Good luck to all of you. I know this is a hard thing to deal with. Thank god for the internet.

    Comment by Toddy — 8 Aug 2010 @ 5:44 pm

  64. Snap! I feel like I have just stumbled on the holy grail of great information and to reiterate what Toddy said, Thank God for the Internet.

    My story is very similar to many of those above, constant sinus infections and a weird, all-of-a-sudden “allergy” or reaction to something in beer, which was just determined with this article. First of all, Thanks to all of you.

    So it started over a year ago when I began having constant sinus infections and couldnt determine the culprit. Fortunately, my dad is a practicing physician of 50 years and has provided tons of resources, referrals drugs, etc. to potentially cure my sinus infections. Here is what I’ve attempted to do so far:

    1. 2 Steriod shots
    2. Multiple Allergist visits
    3. Several Nose, Throat & Ear specialist visits
    4. 3 CT Scans (pricy!)
    5. Nose sprays, steroid packs, etc.

    I’ve gone from complete pan-sinusitus to clear sinuses, but I was still having reactions. I thought it could be gluten, an outside allergy (mold) and in the last couple weeks determined it could be something in beer. Last night was the last straw when I drank 3-4 ounces of a draught Dos Equis and started getting a headache… beer allergy.

    So I’ve landed on this article and your comments have really helped. My next steps: Getting an anti-histamine from my doctor dad today and trying out tonight with some beer and wine. I also have scheduled a visit with my allergist next week so hopefully I’ll have some more answers for y’all in a week or two.

    Thanks again for all the help. Boy could I go for a cold beer right now. Cheers.

    Shawn

    Comment by Shawn — 27 Aug 2010 @ 10:55 am

  65. Great information here. I think something happened a few years back to the ingredients used in wine and beer. On most sites about this problem it seems that most of the poster’s symptons started within the past few years. It would be interesting to find out what has changed in the industry as far as ingredients and preservatives.

    One thing I did notice was if I drank expensive wine or wine produced in Europe, I wouldn’t have a reaction. I switched to beer thinking it was the sulfites, but had the same reaction beer as wine.

    Even though I don’t believe the source of this problem is gluten intolerance, I think there may be something to the previous post about brewing companies using genetically enhanced or mass produced grains and yeast. Or maybe a change in the preservatives used?

    I am very familiar with gluten intolerance (celiac) as my mother has it. Just an FYI the blood test can come back stating you don’t have celiac even when you do have it. A truer test is a small intestine biopsy unless you already adhere to a strict gluten free diet.

    Comment by dawn — 6 Sep 2010 @ 10:40 am

  66. i never had this problem either. then it started to happen constantly so i would just wash down some excedrin… problem gone, but years of this habit cant be healthy right? (especially drinking everyday) i am totally clean, no drinking, drugs, and a healtbhy lifestyle… 1 or 2 beers will bring me the headaches… im guessing ive fried some cells or caused nerve damage over the years and probably just shouldnt drink.

    Comment by charlie gamond — 10 Sep 2010 @ 3:45 pm

  67. Rad post! Very impressed. I think you nailed this topic. I was wondering why I have been waking up with sore nostrils after drinking a number of times recently and sometimes like yourself drinking very little. I always thought it was the smoke of the casino or bar I was at. I really appreciate your sharing of knowledge!

    Comment by brandonlangowski — 3 Dec 2010 @ 4:33 am

  68. So many people reporting the same issues, all starting in the past few years. I’m middle-aged, maybe it’s just an accumulation over the years, but i’ve started getting the headaches and congestion after only a couple of beers (got one now in fact, two lagers last night). I’ve noticed that Guinness seems to be better, less of a reaction in the morning. Also, cheap wine causes the reaction, expensive wines less so.

    Comment by Gianni — 23 Dec 2010 @ 5:52 pm

  69. [...] This is troublesome news for a beer geek, let alone someone who has room designed around a built in kegerator.  My brother and I have always been extremely prone to very serious hangovers (i.e. 2-3 beers can keep us praying at the porcelain goddess until dinner the following day).  In the last few months, however, even one beer has proven enough to keep me up all night with sinus headaches. Histamine, biogenic amines, and ethanol are all known to trigger similar feelings.  I’m hoping it has nothing to do with any of these. [Good read on this here] [...]

    Pingback by Beer Allergies & Alternatives [Cross Post] | MatthewSolar.com — 27 Dec 2010 @ 7:45 pm

  70. I can take one drink of beer and within 20 minutes I begin to sneeze. All the people I have asked said I was crazy, this site says otherwise. haha I really hate it, I love beer. I usually take some allergy medication first. I have noticed, in the ten years of drinking beer, the older I get the worse it is, but so have all my other allergies.

    Comment by Renae — 8 Jan 2011 @ 4:46 am

  71. I have never had the redness, throat swelling or gastrointestinal problems some mention, but I have long (like 15 years) experienced the whole sinus headache problem. Like others, I have had a headache kick in within the first few sips of a drink. I was actually going from that into horrific migraines for about 10 years, but about a year ago I injured my neck while lifting some heavy flower pots. Miraculously, that was the end of the migraines. I am guessing I had a pinched nerve that was causing the sinus headaches to progress to migraines and the injury somehow released it.

    I’ve spent a great deal of time observing what triggers the sinus headaches. This is what I can tell you from my experience:

    Sweeter drinks are much more likely to cause a problem than dry (unsweet) drinks. This may be why someone mentioned that pinot noir does not typically cause them a problem. I tolerate it much better myself. Even sugar ingested separately from the alcohol makes it worse though. Refined sugar is the worst of all, and I can, in fact, get badly congested just from drinking a Coke. (I gave up soft drinks quite a while ago, but not strictly for this reason.) That makes things like rum and coke or Crown and coke real killers. Even a single dry martini has laid me low though, so sugar content isn’t the sole issue.

    Another other interesting observation is that a particular type of beer or wine may be a problem on one occasion and not on another. Or it may be a problem for a few weeks or few months and then be no problem a year later. Allergies are like that though. They come and go and vary over time.

    Yet another factor that seems to make a big difference for me is atmospheric pressure. If it’s dropping or predicted to drop in the next 24 hours, it’s almost a guarantee of serious sinus problems if I drink. If the pressure is stable or trending up, I’m usually much better off.

    Finally, I can confirm what someone else here posted about European wines. I was in Spain a few months ago and had wine every evening with dinner. It was rioja, to be specific. Anyway, over the course of 2 weeks, I had only one headache, and it was mild.

    Oh, one other thing. Drinking more often seems to lessen the problem — at least for me. I suppose there might be some sort of desensitization occurring that reverses when I don’t drink as often. I am not saying the same will be true for you though, so don’t go on a 12 day bender based on what I just wrote. (By drinking more frequently, I mean I might have 1 or 2 drinks 3 or 4 days a week, not 3 or 4 drinks 1 or 2 times a day!)

    Cheers!

    Comment by MajorTom — 28 Jan 2011 @ 11:00 pm

    • Very helpful and interesting comment. Thanks for posting.

      Comment by Cat — 29 Jan 2011 @ 5:01 pm

  72. i am 44 male. i like beer, bourbon, bbq. 10 years ago i noticed an allergy to different beers.

    allergies to histimines, aldehydes, (and other yeast products of fermetation), gluten, are discussed.

    someone discussed sugar !
    i have found that when i have 2-3 beers and sleep (i sleep well) under covers, i get hot, and have a sinus headache.

    I wonder if body temperature exacerbates an allergy or affects sinus headaches.

    i hypothesize that body temperature might cause worsen apnea effects and body metabolism (from sugar) may exacerbate some of our allergies.

    Comment by stopher — 5 Mar 2011 @ 11:45 am

  73. I’ve been suffering from this for some time and thought it was to a liver problem. I like to drink Johnny Walker and soda water and I’m fine the next day as soon as I drink a beer I get serious sinus pressure and am down for the wjhole day with a headache. I didn’t mind this after a whole night of drinking but come on after one beer not fair… I can’t even touch cider it’s even worse, even while drinking the first drink I’ll start with a headache. Can anyone also explain why I get a instant headache around cigerette smoke?

    Comment by Quando — 14 May 2011 @ 4:58 am

  74. V. Interesting re Guinness being tolerable. I often wonder if this depends how well it has been kept (bacterial action increases histamine). Real ales are worst for me but this may be because they are so hard to keep well. Anyone got any other views on good and bad beers? By the way if your problems are more generalised a fortnight of a low histamine diet is worth a try…

    Comment by SimonC — 25 May 2011 @ 2:50 pm

    • I wondered if the real ales were less processed. One of my worst experiences was with a homebrew – I don’t think it had matured enough. The ale tasted great but I was quite ill afterwards.

      I am not sure about the histamines – I thought the allergic reaction was to produce histamines.

      Comment by Cat — 25 May 2011 @ 5:52 pm

  75. Landed here in a couple of minutes after I had an instant reaction to a honey beer…was wondering because the same company has a pilsner that I had no reaction to. But this beer made me sneeze and blow once into 3 tissues within about 30 seconds of drinking the neck of the bottle and cleared my sinuses but now I’m itchy all over. And I had a weird hot flush. I’ve been labeled “a severe allergic” and what helped me have no symptoms at all is Dr. Natura detox every 6 months. Missed the last 2. Almost never drink beer…just wine.

    Comment by Cathy Fletcher — 17 Jun 2011 @ 9:01 pm

  76. [...] This is troublesome news for a beer geek, let alone someone who has room designed around a built in kegerator.  My brother and I have always been extremely prone to very serious hangovers (i.e. 2-3 beers can keep us praying at the porcelain goddess until dinner the following day).  In the last few months, however, even one beer has proven enough to keep me up all night with sinus headaches.  Histamine, biogenic amines, and ethanol are all known to trigger similar feelings.  I’m hoping it has nothing to do with any of these. [Good read on this here] [...]

    Pingback by Beer Allergies & Alternatives | CraftBeerSocial.com — 21 Jun 2011 @ 9:23 pm

  77. [...] This is troublesome news for a beer geek, let alone someone who has room designed around a built in kegerator.  My brother and I have always been extremely prone to very serious hangovers (i.e. 2-3 beers can keep us praying at the porcelain goddess until dinner the following day).  In the last few months, however, even one beer has proven enough to keep me up all night with sinus headaches. Histamine, biogenic amines, and ethanol are all known to trigger similar feelings.  I’m hoping it has nothing to do with any of these. [Good read on this here] [...]

    Pingback by Beer Allergies & Alternatives [Cross Post] - MattSolar.com — 13 Jul 2011 @ 10:49 am

  78. thank you for this article. very useful. I have been suffering from beer related headaches for a while now. I can easily drink scoth, vodka, rum , even wine in good quantities. Yes i will have a hangover the next day if i’ve had too much, but its different with beer. After only one beer i start having a headache. if i have a second one, it becomes really uncomfortable. One more and i am ready to bang my head against the wall. I have tried any kind of beer there is on the market. havent noticed any difference. i guess i should follow the doctor’s advice posted above: “just dont drink beer”….

    Comment by stefan — 17 Aug 2011 @ 10:32 pm

  79. I had my first Corona Mexican beer today and a few hours after drinking it I have developed a really bad right hemisphere frontal lobe headache. Which so far has been making it feel like I’m having my brain squeezed with a lava hand. I think I’ll also be sticking to cider or whiskey, which I have never had a problem with. I normally don’t drink beer as I dislike the taste, but it was a freeby and I was having a shared drink with my 2 brothers who also had one. No idea if they got headaches, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

    Pathos.

    Comment by Pathos — 4 Sep 2011 @ 10:12 am

  80. I looked this up because something in my body recently triggered this occurance. I’m 32 and never had this problem before until now. All I got to say is if you do have this problem stay away from Corona. I had 2 sips and my throat swelled so bad, my chest tighted, my face blew full of hives. I tried microbrews and they give me hives and a sore throat, but not nearly as bad as corona, it was tolerable.

    Comment by kimberly — 20 Oct 2011 @ 6:58 am

    • For those suffering from the flushing, hives, and swelling, I have to point out it may not be from Corona specifically. My wife and (infrequently) I have this reaction to alcohol and citric fruits combined, or even when ingested within a couple hours of drinking.
      Note: Corona is almost always served with a lime.
      This “mixology” issue is also true with hard liquor, and over-doing the wine intake, but only some wines.

      Comment by F.Zeke — 5 Dec 2013 @ 4:36 pm

  81. I started having reactions to certain beers a couple years ago. I’d sometimes get really bad nasal congestion and a runny nose after drinking certain beers on tap. It was like coming down with an instant cold, but my symptoms would usually be gone by the next morning. So, I have (mostly) avoided draught beer and usually order beer in bottles/cans. But now I seem to get a lump in my throat after drinking certain darker beers from bottles. My beer fridge is mostly empty now as I try to find beers that I’m not “allergic” to. :(

    Comment by Bill — 5 Dec 2011 @ 12:48 pm

  82. It is not so much the histamine content itself but histamine intolerance sufferers have lower diamine oxidase levels in their intestines (Wantke, Gotz et al, 1993).

    I started having congestion from beer over a year ago, about when i had some rectal bleeding. They (a month ago) found a bleeding polyp with early, treatable colon cancer. I wonder if colonic difficulties might inhibit diamine oxidase production and lead to beer allergies. Not to scare everybody, but maybe beer congestion is the canary in the coal mine.

    Comment by Sendral — 12 Jan 2012 @ 9:50 pm

    • I’ve just started to experience a similar allergic reaction to Corona. What the hell is in that beer? I had a couple of omission lagers and was feeling fine, then I drank one corona light and within 30 minutes my chest started tightening up and I could barely breathe. I took two benadryls asap and I was finally able to breathe again. I’ve never had this reaction to any other beer. Two nights before I had the same thing happen after having 2 coronas, but I had just started taking fish oil supplements so I thought I was having an allergic reaction to the fish oil. I woke up at 2am with heart palpitations and a very tight chest, barely able to breathe. I’m a 32 year old male and have enjoyed beer since I was 21. I will never touch corona again, I am going to experiment and stick to beers that are made according to the German purity law which only allows barley, hops, water and yeast.

      Comment by JJ — 7 Aug 2012 @ 10:06 am

  83. First of all I want to say great blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing.

    I have had a difficult time clearing my mind in
    getting my thoughts out. I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first
    10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any recommendations or tips? Thank you!

    Comment by Sterling — 9 Aug 2012 @ 6:12 pm

  84. Incredible!!!! I am 48 and have been freaking out about how my sinuses swell and I feel like I went on a multi-day bender after only 4 beers consumed over 4 hours. Until a few years back, I could easily drink a six pack over a Saturday and not even feel it the next day. Now, just a few over an evening and I feel horrible for the next day – all day. Its exactly like the worst sinus headache from severe allergies. If anyone finds a beer that doesn’t trigger this allergic reaction, please post. Im a brewer and will make the product myself, as I love beer.

    Comment by Barry — 18 Aug 2012 @ 8:01 am

    • I’m with you, Barry. I’m 47 and it started a few years ago. I’ve had to give up alcohol altogether, which actually is not a bad thing, is it? I have gone around in circles trying to figure out what, when, why, etc. I have developed the same reaction to any alcohol, not just beer. Also, I have reactions to Advil (actually any NSAIDS), which is odd because I’ve used Advil my entire adult life. My ENT mentioned Samter’s Triad, which looks like it has these symptoms. I also think my immunotherapy shots may have come into play. But regardless what it is or why, I just gave up alcohol for now. My wife is happy because at least now she has a designated driver.

      Comment by Darin — 18 Aug 2012 @ 4:05 pm

  85. Great research thanks! I had a ct scan (diagnosis sinusitus 80 % blockage), went t allergist got pricked (allergic to cats feathers n mold) no surprise there! The allergist said the high histamines in beer and wine is whats causing my sinusitus to block. They suggested surgery
    ..but i continue to look for a diff beer!

    Comment by annette — 3 Oct 2012 @ 10:39 am

  86. Same thing for me – just a few sips of beer and I get a stuffy nose (right nostril only). It doesn’t happen with all beers, seems mostly with pale ales/IPAs and also white wine. And if I drink multiple beers I don’t think it happens (or maybe I just don’t notice it as much) which is strange.

    I’m a physician and just thought I was crazy as I’d never heard of this and I had never experienced it until maybe the last few years (I’m 29), but having heard everyone else’s story above I think it is probably legitimate.

    It may be a combination of a seasonal allergen and an allergen in the beer, neither of which I’m not allergic to alone, that combine to form a mild allergen and that is why my only symptom is a stuffy nose, and that is why I’ve only had the symptoms for a few years (I moved to different part of country a few years ago, different pollens in the air).

    Or maybe just that I started drinking different beers (craft IPA’s, etc) and so wasn’t exposed until now to the yeast that maybe I do have intolerance to.

    Below website somewhat helpful, will have to do some more research.
    http://www.michiganallergy.com/food_and_histamine.shtml

    Comment by Phil — 24 Oct 2012 @ 9:22 pm

  87. Great site.Found it as I was suspicious that I had an allergy to certain beers. Similar symptoms. Last night after 3.5 pints of San Miguel, I had a very bad night snoring ( so I’m told) and some sinus blockage with a medium thick mucus draining down my swollen throat all day. Seems to last a day or two.
    It seems to be related to certain beers. I have blamed colds or viruses in the past. But I did wake one night with my throat fully blocked and unable to speak or swallow without knowing why at the time. It was cured at A&E with an anti-histamine pill.
    From my own observations this condition depends the type of beer and on the amount consumed. Which confirms other peoples observations.
    I do not suffer problems with brown coloured British ales so it seems. The main issue seems for me to be related to Bud, San Miguel and other lagers brewed under license in Britain and served on draft as pints. Usually noticeable the following day after 3 pints or more. The stronger the flavour the larger the reaction.
    I rarely drink the same products from bottles.
    It also seems to happen with British pale ale. Hereford Pale Ale being one ( a great beer by the way)
    These pale ales are bright yellow and have a light hoppy taste and are a sort of tastier real ale version of Bud. From the Internet….
    “…… brewers have dispensed with their usual dried hop recipes at the Kent green hop beer fortnight. They have instead been using only fresh, locally grown “green” hops, which go into the beer less than 12 hours after being picked. Green hops are said to give beer a light and fresh flavour because they retain oils usually lost in the traditional drying process.”
    So I would guess that as the traditional brown British beers use hops dried out in oasthouses, and they don’t affect me, it must be the use of green hops that may be the root cause.
    In addition it seems to have only affected me in the last 5 years to my knowledge, I am 54.So it may be partly age related or have I just noticed?
    Or are brewers using new recipes/hops for the past 5 years?
    I intend, now I am certain I’m not a hypochondriac, to stick to good British brown real ales or cider.
    In addition when the weather is hot and dry, the mucus may not be present as the air drys out your nasal passages and consequently the mucus doesn’t affect your throat.
    I had a boss once, who drank 8 bottles of alcohol free beer and had a major allergic reaction to the beer, his first ever allergic reaction. He spent 2 days in hospital as his face ballooned up.
    This was also a German style light yellow beer.
    We need someone to highlight this beer allergy to beer drinkers as I’m sure we are not alone and there must be thousands? putting up with a runny nose and under the treat of a major allergic reaction.

    Comment by Adrian — 31 Dec 2012 @ 7:42 pm

  88. As a follow up to my last comment the German beer my boss reacted to was the low alcohol brand Clausthaler.
    Also UK hop farmers will grow 1 or 2 male plants amongst all the female ones in order to fertilise the female flowers and thus English hops are known as ‘seeded’ hops. This technique is frowned upon by continental types where ‘seedless’ hops, that is female plants grown without the male, are more prevalent.
    Also a big difference between British bitter and lager/non British beer is the temperature of the fermentation (because of the different yeast used).
    Perhaps its the yeast used that is relevant to the allergic reaction?

    Comment by Adrian — 31 Dec 2012 @ 9:02 pm

  89. I found this amazing post , “Beer Allergies Lab Cat”, incredibly entertaining and the blog post was indeed a very
    good read. Thanks,Bertie

    Comment by doyouhaveavodkapreference.com — 31 Dec 2012 @ 11:07 pm

  90. What test method would you recommend as an otc catch most or all allergies?

    Comment by Jay pepperbun — 3 Feb 2013 @ 2:37 am

  91. Check out the relationship between magnesium and histamine. Also magnesium depletion through the diuretic effect of alcohol

    Comment by frank — 4 Feb 2013 @ 12:31 am

  92. Interesting read. While I don’t suffer from the sinus or face flushing problems many people here are reporting, I do suffer from blinding headaches a few hours after drinking lager. This started with Fosters and now is basically any lager. I decided to start drinking cider instead and had exactly the same reaction. The headaches will last well over 24 hours and seemingly no amount of pain killers can shift it, aspirin, paracetamol, ibuprofen – even when taken all together (I was desperate!) it’s not a ‘normal’ headache, this is something different and it’s incredibly annoying. I’m going to try taking an anti-histamine prior to drinking next time and see how that goes…

    Comment by acrux1986i — 14 Oct 2013 @ 6:58 am

  93. My hangovers have slowly worsened over the years while I changed beers. I quit draft beer 40 years ago. Busch Light was ok for a while. Now the only beer I can tolerate is Amstel Light. The problem is AL has a short shelf life so people don’t like to stock it and if they do it may be skunked. The other problem is no buzz. I thought I had a low tolerance to phosfite but it doesn’t match my issues.DAO Deficiency fits much better. I only drink socially and BYO is embarrassing and a pain in the ass. I’m going to try Claritin before the Christmas party this year. Lots of great info on this page. I searched 100 pages and came back to this one. Thanks.

    Comment by Randall North — 19 Oct 2013 @ 10:20 am


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