How to Test for Alcohol Intolerance | Lifelab Testing

How an Alcohol Intolerance Test Works

Last Updated: 21st November 2022 · Written by Kate Young

If you notice that you don’t feel well after drinking even a few sips of alcohol, then you might be alcohol intolerant. Alcohol intolerance tends to cause immediate uncomfortable reactions like flushing skin, stuffy nose, and nausea. Of course, an alcohol intolerance test will help figure out if you’re truly intolerant to alcohol or if it’s something else you ate. This guide will discuss the symptoms of alcohol intolerance and how you can complete an intolerance test to discover whether alcohol is the cause of these symptoms for you.

Most people who suffer from alcohol intolerance assume that maybe they got drunk too quickly, but in reality, it’s their bodies that don’t have the right enzymes that help break down the beverage. Alcohol intolerance is sometimes also called alcohol sensitivity.

Causes of alcohol intolerance

Alcohol intolerance is passed through genetics. This means that you can inherit this metabolic disorder {1}. This genetic condition prevents your body from properly breaking down alcohol, which leads to the symptoms of alcohol intolerance. It is possible for you to have this condition even if your parents don’t suffer from alcohol intolerance, as it can be genetically mutated and passed down.

Our bodies are full of enzymes and proteins which break down anything that we consume, be it foods or drinks. Alcohol intolerance is when your body lacks a specific enzyme that helps it metabolize alcohol. So, even if you drink small amounts of alcohol, you will still get the symptoms. When you consume anything with ethanol and have alcohol intolerance, the genetic mutation in your body makes ALDH2 inactive. Because of this, your body can’t convert Acetaldehyde to acetic acid, which in turn leads to Acetaldehyde starting to build up in your blood and tissues, causing intolerance symptoms.

Alcohol intolerance symptoms

Before you test for alcohol intolerance, you need to check your symptoms and see if they are close to the common alcohol intolerance symptoms. Which include:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Throbbing headache, fatigue, and other hangover-like symptoms.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) or heart palpitations.
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure).
  • Stuffy nose.
  • Worsening asthma.

Risk factors of alcohol intolerance

If you find out that you have alcohol intolerance, then it’s likely that someone else in your family has it already or will have it. However, it can affect anyone really, but there are people at a higher risk of being alcohol intolerant like:

  • Being of Asian descent, especially Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.
  • Suffering from asthma or hay fever (allergic rhinitis).
  • Having an allergy to grains or other food.
  • Having Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Alcohol intolerance test

It is possible to test for alcohol intolerance. You can even get an alcohol Intolerance Test at home if you feel like you don’t have time to visit the doctor’s office. You can purchase an alcohol intolerance test kit online and have it delivered to your doorstep within three days. All you’ll have to do is carefully read the instructions on how to collect the sample. After collecting your sample and storing it safely, you can then send it back to the labs for testing. At the lab, the scientist will not only do an alcohol intolerance test, but they’ll also test for other common intolerances. You will then receive results in your mail within seven days of sending your sample back to the lab.

Blood test for alcohol intolerance

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Our Basic Intolerance Test Kit

When doing a blood test for alcohol intolerance, the lab technicians check for IgG4 antibodies. By looking at IgG4 antibodies, it acts more like preventative screening as it blocks access of IgE to the allergen. IgG4 antibodies concentration is 10,000 times higher than those of IgE; hence binds faster and with greater frequency. Since only 1% of IgG4 is released in cases of allergies, it is easy to observe them when one has an intolerance.

IgG4 antibodies are released with the focus of influencing immune-inflammatory response without releasing histamines. So, in the lab, observing the IgG antibodies helps the scientist know which foods are causing you intolerance symptoms, and that’s how we come up with a list of culprits that your body is sensitive towards. If you feel like you’d like to try out this science for checking for alcohol intolerance, you can order your alcohol Intolerance Test online.

Difference between alcohol intolerance and allergy

Even though some people think these two are the same, the truth is far from that. Alcohol intolerance is a genetic condition, whereas alcohol allergy is an immune response to ethanol or other compounds used to make the liquor. Since alcohol intolerance is a genetic condition, it means this metabolic disorder affects the digestive system preventing your body from metabolizing alcohol like it’s supposed to.

But when it comes to an alcohol allergy, it only means that the immune system is fighting something in alcohol like grains, preservatives, chemicals, or sulfite. Most people who are allergic to alcohol don’t have an ethanol allergy but rather an allergy to the ingredients used to make alcohol.

The symptoms between the two vary slightly, and in rare cases, an alcohol allergy can be life-threatening, whereas intolerance isn’t {2}. An allergy can result in anaphylaxis which always requires the intervention of a medical emergency team, but an intolerance never becomes that extreme.

Alcohol intolerance treatment

Since alcohol intolerance is more of a genetic issue, there’s no cure for it. The best way to treat alcohol intolerance is by avoiding alcohol. If you don’t consume alcohol, you won’t experience the horrible symptoms of alcohol intolerance. Just because you have alcohol intolerance doesn’t prevent you from being an alcohol addict. In fact, you may experience severe consequences compared to the average person suffering from alcohol addiction. If someone you know or you are struggling with alcohol addiction and intolerance, it’s necessary to help them join a treatment program as it’s the first step towards recovery.

When you have alcohol intolerance, you should quit smoking or avoid inhaling second-hand smoke as it worsens the symptoms of alcohol intolerance. You will also need to completely cut out alcohol or keep it at the barest minimum, and if you still choose to keep drinking alcohol, don’t mix it with medication as it will worsen the symptoms. The most advisable advice you will get is to stop drinking alcohol since it can lead to other dire conditions putting your life at a higher risk.

However, you can use antihistamines or antacids to reduce the symptoms of alcohol intolerance. Even though using antihistamines will help, it’s not a good idea if you keep drinking alcohol afterwards. Since the medications help mask the symptoms, it can often lead to more drinking, which will worsen the problem. If you keep drinking alcohol when suffering from alcohol intolerance, you could end up suffering from:

  • Cancer of the mouth and throat (head and neck cancer)
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease

 

Is alcohol intolerance the same as being drunk?

Most people assume that alcohol intolerance means that you are intoxicated easily, even though this is false. Alcohol intolerance doesn’t mean that you become drunk faster after drinking little amounts of alcohol. Instead, it means that you will most likely not drink too much because symptoms will make the whole experience intolerable. Alcohol intolerance doesn’t increase your blood alcohol level.

Final thoughts on how alcohol intolerance test works

Living with alcohol intolerance can be difficult,  which is why the recommended response is to avoid alcohol at all costs. If you are experiencing symptoms after drinking alcohol, you can get your alcohol Intolerance Test kit today to be sure if you’re honestly intolerant or if it’s something else. If the results show that you’re intolerant, you know what to do. Even though most food intolerances are harmless apart from the negative symptoms, alcohol isn’t like that. The more you keep drinking after learning that you’re intolerant to alcohol, the higher your chances are of developing more dire illnesses.

References

  1. Agarwal, D. P., & Goedde, H. W. (2012). Alcohol metabolism, alcohol intolerance, and alcoholism: Biochemical and pharmacogenetic approaches. Springer Science & Business Media. Source: https://books.google.co.ke/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Fu-XBAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA6&dq=alcohol+intolerance&ots=xSA0WhQlP4&sig=RPcmjNn4rWY0JFkL2xdyIl9Jr9E&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=alcohol%20intolerance&f=false
  2. Gonzalez‐Quintela, A., Vidal, C., & Gude, F. (2004). Alcohol, IgE and allergy. Addiction Biology, 9(3‐4), 195-204. Source: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1369-1600.2004.tb00533.x

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