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Red blotchy looking spots on the neck, chest and head, breathing difficulty post drinking. Allergic reaction to alcohol?

hi docs, Heres a quick background for you. Im a 6 foot 2 inch white male, i use to work out pretty regularly. I work out about 2 times a week now, mostly lifting weights. Im 26 years old and weigh around 265lbs. My question is that when i drink i sometimes get these red blotchy looking spots mostly on my neck/ chest area and my head and it becomes a bit harder to breathe. I am wondering if this is an allergic reaction to alcohol?
Asked On : Thu, 4 Oct 2012
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Allergist and Immunologist 's  Response
Hello ewolms,
Allergic reaction to alcohol is a hypothesis that has been going around for a long time, and there are two explanations for these kind of reactions
1. Alcohol dehydrogenase is an enzyme that breaks down alcohol (something that your body naturally produces for cellular function!) and the alcohol that you drink also needs to be converted by the same enzyme, and therefore deficiency will cause adverse effects in the form of allergic reactions. however, this has not been proven and this test (alc deh levels) is not available routinely.
2. The more likely explanation with your breathing difficulty especially is a form of sulphite intolerance, and therefore you need to see your Allergist to get a list of sulphite-free foods and avoid the foods 'very high' and 'high' in sulphites (this includes wine!). Only then this will be clear.
Patients with underlying asthma do present with shortness of breath when they also have suphite intolerance, and if you have asthma this needs to be discussed with your physician as well.
Answered: Sun, 7 Oct 2012
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