When most people think of food allergies, they picture peanuts, tree nuts, milk, and other common allergens. But it is possible to be allergic to a wide variety of foods and beverages. At last week’s annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), allergists discussed the potential of reactions after consuming alcoholic drinks, according toNews-Medical.net.

Dr. Sami Bahna, past president of ACAAI, summed up the conversation: “Although it’s rare, allergies to alcohol can cause symptoms such as red, itchy eyes, nasal congestion, upset stomach and difficulty breathing.” The reactions are triggered by natural ingredients in beer or wine, such as barley, ethanol, grapes, hops, malt, oats, wheat, and yeast. Other culprits include egg whites – sometimes used during the filtering process – and sulfites, which are used as a preservative in wine. “Individuals can be allergic to the alcohol itself or an added ingredient, but even when people are not allergic, they may not realize that alcohol can worsen existing allergy symptoms, particularly food allergies,” Dr. Bahna added.

What can you do if you’re allergic to alcohol? Dr. Bahna advises “In most cases, simply understanding what triggers the allergic reaction will help the person find an alternative drink to enjoy.”

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