Drinking a glass of red wine should help you relax, but certain medical conditions can lead to muscle pain after drinking alcohol. Red wine is high in histamine and sulfites, which can trigger systemic reactions.
An allergic reaction may also cause pain in various parts of the body shortly after someone drinks the beverage. If you have a painful reaction, avoid drinking red wine until you consult your doctor.
Wine and Muscle Pain
Histamine is a naturally occurring hormone in the body that helps to protect against infections, but it can cause problems throughout the body when produced in excess. Some foods containing histamine can trigger allergy-like symptoms. Red wine and beer are considered high-histamine beverages, according to Asthma UK.
If you're histamine intolerant, drinking red wine may cause pain in your head, abdomen, skin, eyes, throat and chest. When you drink red wine, the extra histamine can cause your blood vessels to dilate, which leads to swelling and inflammation in soft tissues.
Some people may develop an allergic reaction after drinking certain alcoholic beverages. A diagnosis of an allergic reaction requires proof that the body is creating immunoglobulin E antibodies when red wine is introduced into the body.
An allergic reaction is an overreaction that causes the immune system to defend the body from the otherwise harmless substance. Instead of allowing red wine to go through normal digestion, the body reacts as if it is under attack from an infectious organism, which can lead to muscle pain after drinking alcohol.
Sulfite Sensitivity and Anaphylaxis
Sulfites are commonly found in red wine. This can cause pain throughout the body if you have sulfite sensitivity. Sulfites are chemicals used in some foods and beverages as a preservative. They were banned from use in fruits and vegetables in 1986, but are still permitted in alcoholic beverages. A severe reaction to sulfites can cause pain in the chest, along with chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing, according to Cleveland Clinic.
All of these conditions could possibly trigger anaphylaxis — a severe reaction that affects the entire body. If anaphylaxis is not treated, it can lead to serious complications or be fatal, according to Mayo Clinic. During anaphylaxis, your blood vessels dilate to an unhealthy size, causing a drop in blood pressure, increased heart rate and shock. Call 911 if you suspect that you're developing signs of anaphylaxis.
Consider a Hangover
Muscle aches after drinking wine could also be related to a hangover. A hangover occurs when you drink too much alcohol, causing your blood alcohol levels to drop significantly. Most hangover symptoms appear the next morning after you drink too much, and may include thirst, headaches, muscle aches, vomiting, poor sleep, sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness, rapid heart rate, redness in the eyes, and feeling shaky and unable to concentrate, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.