Can Beer Damage the Throat?

Drinking beer can damage the throat under some circumstances, and certain medical conditions can also cause symptoms. If you notice that the same symptoms develop every time you drink beer, stop drinking it and make an appointment with your doctor. Common conditions that may contribute to adverse reactions after drinking beer include histamine intolerance, esophageal ulcers and alcohol or grain allergies.

A pint of beer on a table. (Image: Detanan/iStock/Getty Images)

Esophageal Ulcer

Ulcers can form in your esophagus, the tube that connects your throat to your stomach. The excessive use of alcohol can slowly erode the protective lining in your esophagus, which causes exposure of soft tissue to harsh stomach fluid. The erosion causes open sores to form in your esophagus, leading to pain and discomfort after eating or drinking certain foods and drinks. If diagnosed with an esophageal ulcer, you need to stop consuming all forms of alcohol, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Continuing to drink beer can perpetuate and worsen your symptoms. If you vomit up blood or notice dark-colored blood in your stools, call your doctor right away.

Histamine Intolerance

Beer is a malted beverage that is made by fermenting certain grains. During the fermentation process, a chemical byproduct is created called histamine. Histamine is a chemical naturally found in the body that protects soft tissues from infections. If you're histamine intolerant, your body cannot metabolize the histamine found in beer, which can lead to inflammation, dilation of your blood vessels and irritation in soft tissues. If you're intolerant of histamine, you may feel a lump in your throat or swelling after drinking beer. The Michigan Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Specialists state that beer and wine have high levels of histamine.

Alcohol and Grain Allergies

If you're allergic to alcohol or other ingredients in beer, you may develop itching, swelling or burning in your throat after drinking beer. Beer contains grains, such as wheat, yeast and alcohol, which can trigger a wide range of symptoms from an allergic reaction. An allergy to one or more of the ingredients in beer causes your immune system to overreact to the allergen because it identifies it as a harmful substance. This mistake unleashes various chemicals throughout the body, causing most allergy symptoms.

Anaphylaxis

If you develop swelling in the throat, hives and the inability to breathe, call 911 immediately. Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction that causes extreme dilation in blood vessels that can lead to rapid throat swelling.

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