Drinking Alcohol with COVID-19: Tips for Use, Safety, Risks

Those with alcohol intolerance should try to limit or abstain from alcohol consumption entirely. The term alcohol intolerance is used for those who cannot process alcohol in the normal way. They often have a gene that is affected that is passed down in the family. Even so, if you have a severe corn allergy, you may want to avoid corn-based spirits, most especially bourbon. Gin, whiskey, brandy, and some vodkas may also use corn as an ingredient or flavoring, so be sure to check the label.

  • If you develop any signs of a severe reaction, you should receive one or more doses of epinephrine.
  • Listen to relatives, friends or co-workers when they ask you to examine your drinking habits or to seek help.
  • You need to get to the nearest A&E department as this can be a life-threatening medical emergency.
  • For mild intolerances, you should either avoid alcohol, limit how much you drink or avoid certain types of alcohol with ingredients that may cause a reaction.
  • They don’t have one of the active enzymes needed to process alcohol — alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) or aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).
  • Your skin’s reaction can help them learn if you have an allergy.

The only way to prevent these uncomfortable reactions is to avoid alcohol. If you experience a mild allergic reaction, over-the-counter oral antihistamines may be enough to treat it. If you develop any signs of a severe reaction, you should receive one or more doses of epinephrine. It’s available in preloaded syringes, known as epinephrine auto-injectors (e.g., EpiPen). If your doctor prescribes an epinephrine auto-injector, you should carry it with you at all times. Then go to your nearest emergency department for follow-up care.

If you already drink alcohol, should you stop if you develop COVID-19?

Because of this, distilled spirits are generally safe for people with yeast allergies. The type of yeast used to ferment many alcoholic beverages is known as brewer’s yeast. Therefore, if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, you’ll need to steer clear of conventional beer.

  • For most people with this condition, symptoms will vary from one person to another.
  • Avoid the beverage or beverages that seem to cause your reaction until your doctor’s appointment.
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If you drink alcohol while taking these medications, you can experience alcohol intolerance. People with alcohol intolerance have a mutation in the enzyme that breaks acetaldehyde down into acetate, causing the acetaldehyde to build up in the body. Over the long term, acetaldehyde can increase the risk of cancer. On a short-term basis, it will only cause the unpleasant symptoms that alcohol intolerance is known for.

Who might have alcohol intolerance?

However, acetaldehyde is still highly toxic and can significantly increase the risk of cancer. An allergy to alcohol has a very different cause from alcohol intolerance. Someone with an alcohol allergy has an allergic reaction when exposed to alcohol or to a component of alcohol.

alcohol intolerance symptoms

Morozova, Tatiana V.; Mackay, Trudy F.C.; Anholt, Robert R.H. “Genetics and genomics of alcohol sensitivity.” Molecular Genetics and Genomics, 2014. One study of 948 individuals found that 7.2% self-reported wine intolerance.

Alcohol Intolerance

This is all happens as a result of drinking alcohol, or more specifically, the series of bodily processes it sets in motion. Reducing intake or stopping drinking may help a person feel more in control of their consumption and avoid experiencing a reaction or symptoms related to their alcohol use. In addition, older adults also experience a change in their renal function and balance of water and sodium, which raises their risk of dehydration. This suggests that if they drink alcohol, they may become dehydrated quicker and feel the effects more.

Also, if your symptoms seem to be linked to an allergy or a medication you’re taking, see your doctor. There are genetic tests that can tell you if you have an ALDH deficiency. Your healthcare provider can order this test or you can purchase one through private vendors. In those without alcohol intolerance, alcohol is broken down  into alcohol intolerance symptoms a chemical called acetaldehyde, which is immediately broken down into another chemical called acetate. It won’t go away, but by taking some precautions, you can avoid the symptoms and enjoy a healthy, active life. Alcohol allergy symptoms can range from mild, such as an itchy mouth or eyes, to severe, including vomiting or anaphylaxis.


Acetaldehyde starts to build up in your blood and tissues, causing symptoms. An allergy or intolerance to alcohol is not always responsible for symptoms occurring after drinking alcohol. Symptoms of alcohol intolerance can make a person feel uncomfortable. In contrast, an alcohol allergy could become life threatening. If people experience symptoms after drinking alcohol, they should speak with a doctor for further advice. An allergic reaction might not occur the first time a person encounters an allergen.

  • That is why alcohol detox and alcohol withdrawal treatment is administered by medical professionals.
  • Morozova, Tatiana V.; Mackay, Trudy F.C.; Anholt, Robert R.H.
  • If you have alcohol intolerance but still find yourself drinking excessively, despite the pain and discomfort, talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Even in people who don’t have alcohol intolerance, a build of acetaldehyde in your body is what causes you to feel sick when you’ve had too much alcohol.
  • Avoid the beverage or beverages that seem to cause your reaction until your doctor’s appointment.

Someone with alcohol intolerance may be able to take medications that mask the symptoms, but these medicines will not deal with the underlying issue. Because an actual alcohol intolerance is quite rare, many people who believe they have an alcohol intolerance actually have an alcohol allergy. Allergy testing is often done to rule out an alcohol allergy before a diagnosis of alcohol intolerance is made. For most people with this condition, symptoms will vary from one person to another. However, the most common symptoms to look out for are your skin flushing and feeling sick whenever you consume alcohol.


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