Beer allergy: symptoms and causes – what to do?

by Corinna

A beer allergy can have different causes and thus also cause different symptoms. But intolerances can also be the reason for negative reactions of the body to beer. You can find out how this affects you and what the cause may be in this article.

Beer allergy: possible causes

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

  • The Beer Purity Law is a good thing for allergy sufferers: malt, hops, water and yeast – no more ingredients are permitted 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. With the malt, protein structures of the grain can also end up in the beer. These can act as allergens. If you have an allergy to these types of grain, a reaction can be triggered when you drink beer. A gluten intolerance due to the grain is also 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 also occur in the case of an existing birch pollen allergy.
  • Also against yeast there are allergies – although just as rare. In this case, the immune system reacts to the protein contained in the yeast. Just as with grains, an intolerance can also be triggered by yeast. To be able to react correctly to your symptoms, you should be able to distinguish between the two.

Responding correctly to symptoms

The symptoms that can occur with a true beer allergy are not always easy to distinguish from possible effects of the alcohol. It is also not easy to distinguish it from an intolerance. However, you should be alert, stop drinking alcohol immediately and possibly consult your doctor if the following symptoms occur:

  • For example, if your tongue and lips swell and start to burn and itch very quickly after the first few sips, you could be allergic to the drink.
  • If you notice swelling of the mucous membranes in your throat or nose and they suddenly sniffle, if there is severe redness of the skin with blisters or eczema, or if you are suddenly plagued by nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, these are also possible allergic symptoms.
  • These common allergic reactions are those of the so-called type I reaction type. They occur very quickly after contact with the allergen. The danger here is that extreme exposure to the allergen and a strong reaction can lead to so-called anaphylactic shock and even life-threatening, acute circulatory failure.
  • If you experience one or more symptoms, stop drinking alcohol and seek medical attention depending on the severity of the allergic reaction. It is important that you have no shame in mentioning the connection with beer consumption.
  • If you have even a slight suspicion of a beer allergy, you can work with an allergist to find the actual reaction mechanism responsible. This is the only way to find out whether you should continue to avoid drinking beer in the future.

intolerances to beer

Sometimes it is not an allergy but an intolerance. Nevertheless, the symptoms are almost the same and come 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. This usually involves gastrointestinal complaints, 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 coeliac disease, you should exercise restraint when drinking beer.
  • Beer can also have negative effects on histamine intolerance. The brew is created with the help of yeasts, which can produce histamine in the fermentation process. So-called top-fermented beers (wheat beer, Kölsch) have a higher histamine content than bottom-fermented beers (Pils, Export).
  • It is also possible to have an intolerance to beer ingredients. However, compared to a food allergy, you have the advantage 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, consult your doctor about this too.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment