Heart Palpitations & Beer

Beer mugs
Mugs of beer (Image: Michał Różewski/iStock/Getty Images)

Heart palpitations that develop after drinking beer is most likely a sign of anaphylaxis, a systematic allergic reaction that affects your entire body. Beer contains sulfites, grains and alcohol that can all trigger an allergic reaction. If your heart rate increases after drinking beer, call your doctor immediately. If you’re experiencing a severe allergic reaction you can develop life-threatening symptoms. Avoid beer until you can be seen by your health care provider.

Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis from drinking beer can occur because of various conditions. Anaphylaxis is a rare condition that is triggered by an allergen that your body mistakes as a dangerous substance. Anaphylaxis is most commonly the result of an insect bite, medication or food. During a severe allergic reaction tissues in your body release histamine and other chemicals that cause inflammation to occur. Soft tissues become swollen and tighten and lead to further complications, such as the inability to breathe, an increased heart rate, a faint pulse and sudden drop in blood pressure.

Sulfites

Chemicals called sulfites are commonly used in beer and wine as a preservative to stop the beverage from changing color. The Cleveland Clinic states that the FDA placed a restriction of sulfites for use in fruits and vegetables, but they're still allowed in beverages. You may have an allergy or sensitivity to sulfites that could cause anaphylaxis to occur. An allergic reaction will cause the creation of immunoglobulin E antibodies, while a general sensitivity may only cause digestive complications.

Alcohol Intolerance

Although alcohol intolerance is not an allergic reaction, it can still lead to anaphylaxis. Alcohol intolerance is the inability of your body to digest and absorb alcohol. This condition causes nasal congestion, itchy skin, runny nose, nasal congestion, asthma, vomiting, nausea, heartburn, abdominal pain and an increased heart rate. Drinking beer can trigger the symptoms of this intolerance that may lead to heart palpitations. Treatment of this severe condition may include the use of epinephrine, synthetic adrenalin that can restore the body to its normal function.

Grain Allergy

Beer is made from grains. If you have a wheat, barely or rye allergy, an increased heart rate and palpitations may be caused by the grain proteins used to make beer. When you ingest beer, your immune system may accidentally identify the proteins in the beverage as allergens and attack them with IgE antibodies. This action can lead to a flood of chemicals entering the body, sending it into a state of shock.

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