What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Wine Allergy?

Few people realize that wine can cause allergy symptoms. Many people believe that only solid foods cause allergy symptoms, but in reality, wine contains ingredients that can cause allergy symptoms.

In a survey completed at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz in Germany, scientists found that almost 25 percent of the people who completed a survey had some degree of alcohol intolerance. This survey involved 950 people who lived in the western area of Germany where wine is produced.

Wine Allergy Symptoms

The people who participated in this survey reported that they developed symptoms that were much like other kinds of allergy symptoms. These included runny nose, diarrhea, itchy skin, or skin that became flushed. Some reported a rapid heartbeat.

Other symptoms develop in people with a wine allergy, including swelling of the lips, mouth, or throat, shortness of breath, or vomiting. This reaction is really a wine intolerance, and not a true allergy.

What Causes a Wine Intolerance?

If you have a wine intolerance, chances are that you are affected most of all by red wine. This is because the skin of red grapes contains a type of protein allergen called LTP. This protein is only found in the skin of the grapes.

Other elements of wine that can cause reactions are bacteria and yeast as well as sulfites and other organic compounds. Some of these ingredients are also found in beer. Many people who cannot tolerate red wine are still able to drink white wine without any problem.

Histamine and Headaches

The histamine contained in red wine is also found in some foods, including aged cheese. Histamine intolerance sometimes results in a headache, and some people believe that red wine leads to migraines.

All alcoholic drinks have histamine, so if you develop a headache or migraine after drinking red wine, you may want to try white wine to see if you have the same reaction. If you react to all alcoholic drinks in the same way, you will need to avoid alcohol.

Some foods are also high in histamine, including kefir, spinach, tomatoes, and many cured meats like bacon, ham, and others.

Sulfites May Be the Culprit

Sulfites are another cause of allergies and may show up if you drink wine or beer. They are a natural ingredient in these drinks that prevent harmful bacteria from developing. Sometimes, extra sulfites are added to wine to preserve it.

A sulfite allergy is a type of wine allergy that can cause a serious reaction, including asthma attacks or anaphylaxis. Low amounts of sulfites do not usually cause an allergic reaction, but large amounts can do this.

The U.S. government requires that foods with more than 10 parts of sulfite per million must have this listed on the label. It is usually labeled as "Contains sulfites."

Photo: NBC News
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