You may not be aware that burning in your stomach after drinking alcoholic beverages may be a sign of alcohol intolerance. Alcohol intolerance is commonly referred to as an alcohol allergy because the condition can cause allergy-like symptoms. Most symptoms develop within minutes of consuming alcoholic beverages and may cause a severe reaction in rare cases. Stop drinking alcohol until you can make an appointment with your doctor.
Alcohol intolerance is caused by a genetic condition that affects your digestive system’s ability to digest alcohol. Your body’s small intestines lack the enzymes to break down alcohol, leaving the substance undigested in your body. This condition is chronic and has no cure, aside from eliminating alcohol form your diet entirely. Not all alcohol intolerance symptoms are related to the alcohol itself, but may be the result of other ingredients. Many alcoholic beverages contain grains, gluten, yeast, chemicals and preservatives that may trigger an adverse reaction in your body, such as a burning sensation in your stomach.
The burning sensation in your stomach may be the result of general irritation or inflammation from histamine production. Because the alcohol remains undigested, it can aggravate the lining of your stomach and intestines, leading to swelling and pain. Histamine is a by-product of brewing many alcoholic beverages that can cause inflammation in soft tissue in excess. Histamine is naturally found in your body but when too much is produced or ingested, your stomach can become inflamed.
Burning in your stomach will not be the only symptom to develop from alcohol intolerance. Common symptoms that will accompany stomach burning include itching skin, redness, warmth in the skin, nasal congestion, runny nose, asthma, headaches, an increased heart rate, vomiting, cramping, abdominal pain and nausea. If you’re of Asian descent, have an allergy to grains or other foods, have Hodgkin’s lymphoma or are taking antibiotic medications you are at greater risk.
If you develop severe burning in your stomach after drinking an alcoholic beverage, call your doctor because you may be experiencing a severe reaction. CNN Health states that the two most common complications of alcohol intolerance include migraines and anaphylaxis, a systematic bodily reaction. Migraines are severe, localized headaches that can make you feel nauseous and may improve by laying down in dark, quiet room. In rare cases, you may develop anaphylaxis, which will require emergency medical attention.