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Waking up with runny nose, itchy and watery eyes after drinking alcohol. Is this normal?

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ENT Specialist
Practicing since : 2001
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Hi, after drinking alcohol (but also not exclusively) I wake up the next day with a really runny nose and itchy/watery eyes. It happens all year round and generally does not happen when there is a high pollen count - so I excluded hayfever. Is this a normal occurance?

Posted Sun, 19 Aug 2012 in Smoking and Alcohol Addiction
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 1 hour later

Thank for the query

Stuffy nose following alcohol ingestion is caused by alcohol intolerance and high levels of histamine in alcoholic beverages. The earliest signs of alcohol intolerance and sensitivity to histamine is nasal congestion and flushing of the skin.

This is not a common phenomenon. The intolerance could be a genetic condition wherein the person's body is unable to break down the alcohol, leading to complications. Those individuals, who are susceptible to alcohol, need not be sensitive to pollen.

My suggestion to you is
1. To avoid alcohol in the future.
2. Drink plenty of warm water.
3. Use saline nasal spray to reduce the nasal stuffiness followed by steam inhalation.
4. Take an antihistaminic such as fexofenadine to control the allergy.

Hope I have answered your query; I will be available for the follow-up queries.

Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Waking up with runny nose, itchy and watery eyes after drinking alcohol. Is this normal? 23 minutes later
Thank you

I find nasal sprays make the issue worse and antihistamine do not work.

The symptoms also happen when I do not drink is this just related to the previous drinking?

Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 21 hours later

Thanks for writing back

Nasal stuffiness noticed even without consumption of alcohol could be due to allergic rhinitis.

Allergic rhinitis is a common condition characterized by an immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated inflammation of the nasal mucosa following exposure to allergens. It is characterized by sneezing, nasal discharge and nasal congestion. The best way to treat this condition is to identify those food materials which induces allergy and to avoid that.

Secondly, you can try taking a short course of oral steroids (such as prednisolone) which will help in reducing the symptoms. Saline nasal spray can be beneficial, as it does not cause worsening of the nasal congestion, but helps in keeping the nasal mucosa moist.

Finally, if this is a recurrent problem you can get the ‘skin prick test’ done, to identify the type of allergen causing you this problem and hence you can avoid it in the future.

I wish you good health.

Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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