Nasal Allergies and the Negative Effects of Alcohol

closeup of a woman's hand holding a glass of wine

Allergy sufferers everywhere, listen up. You may feel a little better if you choose the virgin daiquiri instead of the grown-up version.

It's possible that cutting back on beer, wine, and -- yes -- those fruity summer cocktails could mean less sneezing, a clearer nose, and more comfortable eyes.

The alcohol/allergy connection

In an 8-year study, women who drank 14 or more alcoholic beverages per week were much more likely to develop perennial (year round) nasal allergies than the women who had less than a drink per week. Although the researchers didn't measure how alcohol affected symptoms in people who already had allergies, the theory is that alcohol could exacerbate symptoms, given the results of their study and the fact that alcohol seems to trigger hypersensitivity reactions -- the same type of overreactions that occur when your immune system overresponds to allergens. Alcohol can also increase the production of an antibody involved in allergic responses. One caveat: Drinking did not raise the risk for seasonal allergic rhinitis.

Know your nose

There's no guarantee that cutting back on alcohol will keep you from developing allergies or that it will alleviate symptoms you already have. If you'd like to try it, keep a symptom diary so you can track your food and beverage choices as well as your activities, along with any symptoms you experience. Share this information with your doctor at your next appointment.

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