A woman wondering, "What is sudden onset alcohol intolerance?"

What Is Sudden Onset Alcohol Intolerance?

If you find yourself feeling very sick after drinking even a small amount of alcohol, you could have sudden onset alcohol intolerance. At Promises, we offer alcohol addiction treatment programs that can help those struggling with this condition as a result of alcoholism. Call us today at 844.875.5609 to learn more. 

What Is Sudden Onset Alcohol Intolerance?

Sudden onset alcohol intolerance is a disorder that causes a physical reaction to alcohol that differs from intoxication or a hangover. It occurs when your body is no longer able to break alcohol down properly, leading to a buildup of a chemical called acetaldehyde. High levels of this chemical cause the symptoms of alcohol intolerance. 

It’s common to mistake intolerance for an alcohol allergy, but they’re not the same condition. Sudden onset alcohol intolerance occurs because your body lacks an enzyme that helps with breaking down alcohol, while an allergy results from a reaction to a specific component in the alcohol. 

Some common symptoms of alcohol intolerance include:

  • Headaches
  • Hives
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Flushed skin
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Runny or stuffy nose

These symptoms can begin right after you consume alcohol or a few hours later. They can range from mild to severe.

Causes of Sudden Onset Alcohol Intolerance

Now, you’re no longer wondering, “What is sudden onset alcohol intolerance?” However, you’re probably still a little unclear on how it can happen. 

The first thing to realize is that any factors may affect your body’s ability to break down alcohol. One common cause is the malfunction or lack of an enzyme that you need to process alcohol in the body. When the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), isn’t working properly or is not present at all, you can develop symptoms of intolerance.

Certain medications, including antibiotics and antifungals, can cause sudden onset alcohol intolerance. In people struggling with alcohol abuse, a medication called disulfiram creates alcohol intolerance to help with the treatment process. 

Your genetics can also play a role. Some people are predisposed to developing sudden onset alcohol intolerance. If you have a family member with this type of intolerance, you have a higher chance of developing it yourself. 

Liver issues can also cause this condition. If you have an alcohol use disorder and have had it for years, it’s likely your liver is not working as it should be. If your liver’s health is deteriorating, it isn’t able to break alcohol down as efficiently as it needs to. 

Treating Sudden Onset Alcohol Intolerance

There is no cure for this condition unless a medication is causing the problem. To avoid the uncomfortable and potentially severe symptoms, you have to avoid drinking alcohol. Even if your symptoms are mild, it’s best to abstain because your body will still experience a buildup of acetaldehyde. 

If you continue to drink, you could be putting yourself at risk of developing cirrhosis and even cancer of the mouth and throat. Because stopping your consumption of alcohol can be very difficult if you have a dependence or addiction to it, it’s essential in those cases to turn to alcohol addiction treatment programs that can help you through the process. 

In particular, you should go safely through alcohol detox and participate in individual and group therapy sessions. By doing so, you can begin to break free from the hold alcohol has on you. 

Get Help for an Alcohol Use Disorder at Promises

Dealing with an alcohol use disorder can be isolating and terrifying. When you turn to a treatment program, you have the chance to deal with the underlying cause of the problem. This gives you the opportunity to obtain and maintain your sobriety. 

At Promises, we offer residential and outpatient treatment programs to help you get started. Get back on the right track by calling Promises at 844.875.5609.

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