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Is Having A Beer Allergy Real? How Do You Treat It?

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Hello Bacsi · Updated Mar 18, 2023

Is Having A Beer Allergy Real? How Do You Treat It?

What is a beer allergy? In beer, besides water, there are many other ingredients, such as barley, yeast, and hops or flavorings. Alcohol allergy is a rare condition that occurs when you are allergic to a specific ingredient in beer, usually the alcohol. 

Beer allergy symptoms

What are the signs and symptoms of a beer allergy? If you have a beer allergy, you may have the same symptoms as other allergic reactions, including:

  • Going red
  • Rashes
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Hoarseness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Chest tightness

Allergic reactions to foods usually occur within a few hours. This is a condition that occurs when the body’s immune system reacts to food proteins that the body considers harmful. Symptoms of rash, wheezing, and chest pain can occur almost immediately. These symptoms are often severe and potentially life-threatening. Therefore, you should go to the emergency room immediately if you have the above symptoms.

If symptoms are very mild, you may have a food sensitivity rather than an allergy. This condition is called food intolerance.

When should you see a doctor?

If you have symptoms of an allergic reaction after drinking beer, you should see your doctor. They can help determine if you are allergic to a specific ingredient in beer. This also helps you avoid that ingredient in other products.

If you have ever experienced swelling of your tongue or throat or difficulty breathing after drinking beer, you should stop drinking until you see your doctor.

Causes of Beer Allergy

What causes a beer allergy? Ingredients in beer that can cause beer allergies or alcohol intolerance include:


Histamine is found in many alcoholic beverages, especially red wine. This substance can cause headaches, nasal congestion, facial flushing, asthma, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Histamine intolerance can be caused by the body’s inability to break down or get rid of this compound.


Although the yeast content in beer is very low, it can still cause an allergic reaction. Symptoms include wheezing, sneezing, diarrhea, nausea, heartburn, dizziness, white tongue, sore throat, skin rash, and abdominal pain.

Sulphite or Sulfur Dioxide

Wine and beer may contain sodium metabisulphite or sulfur dioxide – a chemical used to clean brewing equipment and found in beer in large quantities. Aroud 10% of asthmatics react to sulphites in alcoholic beverages, but anaphylaxis is rare.


Substances such as sodium benzoate and tartrazine can trigger asthma attacks and hives.

Allergy to ingredients of plant origin

Fruit Extracts: Although fruit extracts, such as grapes, berries, oranges, apples, and coconuts can be destroyed during the processing of beer and other alcoholic beverages, any residues can cause an allergic reaction.

Wheat and gluten: Some beers contain wheat and gluten, a protein found in barley.

Hops: Some people may be sensitive to hops, an ingredient that gives beer a bitter taste. They may experience a runny nose, swollen eyelids, skin rashes, and asthma.

Malt Barley: An allergic reaction to barley is common in people who are sensitive to pollen, which causes a tingling sensation on the face, hives, swelling of the tongue and lips, dizziness, cough, and chest discomfort.

Yeast: Sensitization to yeast is rare, but some people can react to fungal spores found in wine corks.

Risk of beer allergy

What factors increase the risk of beer allergy? You are more likely to develop allergies if you have a family history of allergies, and a personal and family history of asthma.

Food allergies are a serious problem. Therefore, you must be very careful when reading labels and choosing foods and beverages.

In the most severe cases, a food or drink allergy can lead to anaphylaxis. Symptoms may include hives, wheezing, and chest pain. If you have any of these symptoms, go to the emergency room right away because anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Beer Allergy

The information provided is not a substitute for medical professional advice. Always consult your doctor.

What methods help diagnose beer allergy?

To determine if you have an alcohol allergy or intolerance to one of the ingredients in beer, your doctor will ask about your medical history and the symptoms you experience when drinking alcohol.

Your doctor will also do a physical exam and do other tests to rule out similar conditions that may be causing your symptoms.

Skin testing will be helpful in identifying the specific substance to which you may be allergic. Blood tests help measure IgE levels to determine if the immune system has an allergic reaction to certain substances.

What methods help treat beer allergy?

Some measures to help you treat beer allergy such as:

Avoid allergens: The best way to avoid beer allergy symptoms or any alcohol intolerance is to stay away from beer, alcoholic beverages, or any specific ingredients that are causing the problem. You may also need to read labels on drinks carefully to see if they contain additives or ingredients that could cause a reaction.

Taking medication: Minor reactions such as itching and hives can be relieved by taking prescription or over-the-counter allergy medications. However, antihistamines cannot completely treat a severe allergic reaction. Therefore, you should visit your doctor for the correct treatment.

Wear a medical bracelet or necklace: If you have experienced a severe allergic reaction to beer or anything else, you should wear a medical bracelet or similar necklace to alert others that you may be allergic, so they can help you avoid those allergens

Learn other Nutrition Facts here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Hello Bacsi · Updated Mar 18, 2023

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