With Christmas and New Year’s Eve upon us, you may plan to celebrate with a cocktail or two. However, while this customary activity sounds harmless enough, every time you take a sip, you may be putting yourself at risk. From alcohol to mixers, what hidden dangers are lurking in your drink?
To begin with, you may have noticed that when you have an alcoholic drink, you immediately start to experience any one of the following symptoms:
- Facial redness (flushing)
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Warm, red, itchy bumps on the skin (hives)
- Worsening of preexisting asthma
- Low blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
If this is so, you could be suffering from alcohol intolerance. This intolerance is caused by a genetic condition in which the body lacks the specific enzyme necessary to break down alcohol, which then becomes toxic.
People who meet one of the following conditions are more at risk for having that missing enzyme:
- Of Asian descent
- Asthma or hay fever (allergic rhinitis) sufferer
- Allergic to grains or other foods
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma patient
An alcohol intolerance is not an allergy — the difference being that an intolerance is not life threatening, whereas an allergy can lead to anaphylaxis, which if not treated promptly, can be deadly. In the rare case that a person does have an actual alcohol allergy, he or she will have an instantaneous serious reaction, such as severe pain or difficulty breathing. If this happens, seek emergency medical help right away.
This is not to say that if you have an intolerance, you should ignore it and continue drinking. If you are experiencing the symptoms listed above, why would you even want to drink? For non-alcoholic drinks that are so delicious you won’t care that they’re alcohol-free, visit the Mocktail Board on Pinterest.
However in most cases, it isn’t the actual alcohol that causes the adverse reaction, but rather the ingredients. The Mayo Clinic states that sulfites or other preservatives; chemicals, grains or other ingredients; or histamine, a byproduct of fermentation or brewing, can all induce an uncomfortable intolerance.
But even if you are sure you don’t have an alcohol intolerance, drinking adult beverages can make you sick. Of course, being ill can be a result of drinking too much, but it can also be a result of food allergies.
Some mixed drinks obviously have allergens in their ingredient list. For example, a White Russian is made with cream, but did you know that some margarita mixes use a milk derivative for binding? Are you aware that vermouth, wines or vodkas can contain citrus fruits? Alcohol can also be a major concern for people with nut allergies. For an extensive list of alcohols that contain nuts, visit Nut Free Ninja.
So as you raise your glass to the new year, make sure you know exactly what has gone into it — the alcohol itself as well as the mixers. Otherwise, what should be a night of fun may not include much celebration at all.