Alcohol Sensitivity Symptoms

Alcohol sensitivity is a genetic condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, some people's bodies are simply incapable of processing alcohol. Alcohol sensitivity is fairly simple to recognize because it almost always produces immediate symptoms. The only way to avoid symptoms related to alcohol sensitivity is to avoid all alcoholic beverages. However, if the symptoms appear with no prior history, visit your doctor. They can be signs of a more serious condition.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Warm, Itchy Skin

One of the most common symptoms of alcohol sensitivity is warm, itchy skin. Your face might appear exceedingly flushed, and you might even develop a rash or hives on your body. According to the Mayo Clinic, as long as you experience only mild redness and slight irritation, all you need to do is curb your drinking. However, if a serious rash develops you should see a doctor. This can be a sign of something other than alcohol sensitivity, including a reaction to medication or an allergy to grain.


Alcohol sensitivity can cause cold- or flu-like symptoms, including nasal and chest congestion. If you have been drinking and develop basic congestion issues, do not take decongestant medication. Mixing medication with alcohol is generally not advised. Mild symptoms of congestion are not generally a concern, unless you have asthma. Those with pre-existing asthma can experience wheezing and other extreme symptoms as a result of alcohol intolerance 1. If asthma is an issue, see a doctor for treatment.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Many people with more extreme cases of alcohol sensitivity will experience gastrointestinal issues after consuming a small amount of alcohol. These symptoms include heartburn, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. This is because those with extreme alcohol sensitivity usually completely lack the enzymes necessary to metabolize alcohol. Your body views alcohol as poison and tries to get rid of it through any means possible. If your alcohol sensitivity symptoms include gastrointestinal issues, see your doctor to make sure alcohol is your only trigger.