Does high alcohol consumption cause allergies? That is question many have wondered as patients with alcohol intake have complained about allergy symptoms. To measure this, scientists measured the IgE levels in patients. IgE is thought to play an important role in allergic diseases, such as asthma, allergic rhinitis and allergic eczema. Thus high total IgE levels may be a good marker for those with allergic disease. Studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption leads to higher IgE levels, but the question is does it lead to more allergies?
In a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers in Denmark tested the hypothesis that high alcohol consumption is associated with high IgE levels and allergic diseases in the general population. Over 100,000 subjects were studied.
The conclusions of the study were very interesting. High alcohol consumption was associated with high IgE levels but not with high risk allergic disease. Thus, high alcohol consumption seems to cause high IgE levels, but the increased IgE level does not seem to lead to high risk of allergic disease (asthma, rhinitis, eczema).
It seems somewhat contradictory that high alcohol consumption leads to high IgE levels but not allergic diseases. Alcohol may somehow lead to increased IgE levels in someone but not actually cause increased allergies.
The clinical importance for the findings is worth considering. First, because high alcohol consumption did not lead to allergic disease, so there is no reason to advise against alcohol consumption to prevent allergies. Second, in some patients with or without allergies but with high IgE levels, the high IgE levels can be explained by high alcohol consumption rather than allergic disease.
In a previous post we discussed the different causes of high IgE levels.
We have also discussed alcohol allergy.
Always speak to your allergist or allergy doctor if you are having allergic problems after consuming alcohol. This is different though from alcohol dehydrogenase deficiency or “alcohol flush” which is seen in many subjects with Asian ancestry.