Many people after consuming alcohol experience stuffy nose and flushing of skin sometimes accompanied with repeated sneezing. This immediate effect is caused due to alcohol intolerance and presence of histamine in the alcohol. It usually occurs in people who are deficient in certain enzyme which helps in processing alcohol once it is absorbed in the blood.
Although some people recognize this symptom as alcohol allergy, it is in fact body’s intolerance to alcohol. However, sometimes the reaction develops due to substances such as preservatives in alcohol beverage, this may be true allergy.
What Causes My Nose Get Stuffy After I Drink Alcohol?
Normally whatever food we consume in our body gets broken down into stomach and intestine by enzymes and juices. But alcohol needs no such pathway for digestion. It directly gets absorbed in the blood. It then reaches liver where certain enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) enzyme metabolizes. But in some people the gene that is responsible for production of ALDH is absent. Lack of this enzyme causes incomplete breakdown of alcohol. Body now cannot tolerate the circulating alcohol and it produces symptoms in the form of congestion in nose and various other manifestations.
Beside the deficiency of ALDH enzyme, some people cannot tolerate the additives and preservatives or any other additional ingredients present in alcohol. It produces allergic reaction. Preservatives such as sulfur dioxide, grains and chemicals in alcohol can cause moderate to severe reaction in susceptible person.
ALDH is also responsible for processing histamines. Certain type of alcohol especially, wine contains large amount of histamine. Histamine is already present in the body but in small amount and it helps the body to fight off any substances that the immune system feels in harmful. However, when too much of histamine circulates in the system due to lack of ALDH, it causes inflammation in the nasal passage leading to congestion, sneezing and running nose.
Stuffy nose and skin flushing after drinking even small amount of alcohol is more seen in people of Asian descent. It is also commonly associated with asthmatics and people who are allergic to grains such as corn, rye etc.
As mentioned earlier aside from nasal stuffiness, alcohol intolerance can cause many other symptoms which include inflammation and itching of skin. Digestion problems include heartburn, nausea and vomiting, cramps in abdomen. If the patient has asthma, drinking alcohol can worsen his asthmatic symptoms. Low blood pressure, giddiness can also occur in such people.
How To Treat Stuffy Nose Due To Alcohol?
If you are experiencing alcohol intolerance and alcohol allergy the only treatment measure is to avoid drinking alcohol or a particular beverage that is causing the problem. Nasal congestion or stuffy nose due to alcohol intolerance does not last for more than three days. However, during this period person can try some home remedies to alleviate the troublesome symptoms.
He can drink warm fluids and soups or take a warm shower so that some amount of steam goes into his nasal passage. It helps to reduce inflammation and open the nasal passage as well as the blocked sinuses. During this period he should drink plenty of water to flush out toxins and promote secretion of thin mucus from the nose.