Beer Allergy: Symptoms and Causes – What to Do?

A beer allergy can have different causes and cause different symptoms. But intolerances can also be the reason for negative reactions of the body to the beer. In this article, you can find out how this affects each other and what the cause can be.

Beer Allergy: Possible Causes

If you are allergic to beer, in this case, the alcohol is usually not the cause of the severe allergic reaction. Although there is an allergy to ethanol – this is extremely rare. Rather, other ingredients in the beer play a role in its allergenicity.

  • The purity law for beer is a good thing for allergy sufferers: malt, hops, water, and yeast – more ingredients are not allowed for brewing beer. Nevertheless, this already results in a number of potential allergens.
  • The basis for malt is barley or, in the case of wheat beers, wheat. Protein structures of the grain can also end up in the beer with the malt. These can act as allergens. If you are allergic to these types of grain, a reaction can be triggered when drinking beer. A gluten intolerance due to the grain is similar.
  • An allergy to hops is also possible. This rarely occurs. However, there is a suspicion that, in rare cases, a cross-reaction to hops in food could occur in the case of an existing birch pollen allergy.
  • There are also allergies to yeast – although they are just as rare. Here, in turn, the immune system reacts to the protein contained in the yeast. Just like with grain, an intolerance can also be triggered by yeast. In order to be able to react correctly to your symptoms, you should be able to distinguish between the two.

Respond appropriately to symptoms

The symptoms that can occur with a real beer allergy are not always easy to distinguish from the possible effects of the alcohol. Distinguishing from intolerance is not easy either. However, you should be vigilant, stop drinking alcohol immediately, and possibly consult your doctor if you experience the following symptoms:

  • For example, if your tongue and lips swell, burn and itch very quickly after the first few sips, you may be allergic to the drink.
  • If you notice swelling of the mucous membranes in your throat or nose and you suddenly sniffle, if you develop severe reddening of the skin with blisters or eczema, or if you suddenly experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, these are also possible allergic symptoms.
  • These common allergic reactions are those of the so-called Type I reaction type. They appear very quickly after contact with the allergen. The danger here is that extreme exposure to allergens and a strong reaction can lead to what is known as anaphylactic shock and even life-threatening, acute circulatory failure.
  • If you have one or more symptoms, stop drinking and seek medical attention depending on the severity of the allergic reaction. Importantly, don’t be ashamed to mention the connection to beer consumption.
  • If you have even the slightest suspicion of a beer allergy, you can work with an allergist to find the reaction mechanism that is actually responsible. This is the only way to find out whether you should continue to stop drinking beer in the future.

Intolerance to beer

Sometimes it is not an allergy but an intolerance. However, the symptoms are almost the same and come on just as suddenly. The causes are similar and can also spoil the enjoyment of the glass of beer.

  • You may be sensitive to the gluten content of beer. Gastrointestinal symptoms are the most common, but skin rashes are also possible. Depending on the type of beer, a different gluten content can be measured in the drink. Wheat beer contains the most gluten. Especially if you suffer from celiac disease, you should exercise caution when drinking beer.
  • Even with histamine intolerance, beer can have negative effects. The brew is made with the help of yeasts, which can produce histamine during the fermentation process. So-called top-fermented beers (Weissbier, Kölsch) have a higher histamine content than bottom-fermented beers (Pils, Export).
  • An intolerance to beer ingredients is also possible. However, you have the advantage over a food allergy that you may still be able to tolerate small amounts of beer or other types of beer and do not have to do without it completely. If you are unsure about this, consult your doctor.

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