Can Drinking Alcohol Trigger an Asthma Attack

After having a couple of drinks, do your asthma gets terrible? Do you need to use your inhaler a lot the next day? Does alcohol cause your asthma to worsen? Well, yes, alcohol can worsen your asthma symptoms. Let’s ready this page to know more on this.

Effect of Alcohol on People Living with Asthma

Smoking, dust, pollution, or pets are common asthma triggers, but very few know that alcohol can also trigger asthma symptoms like breathlessness, wheezing, coughing, and tightness in the chest in some people.

For some people, any alcoholic drink triggers an asthma attack while for other certain alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer that contributes to wheezing and coughing due to asthma. Wine is considered as one of the most common triggers for asthma, and there is evidence that it brings symptoms most quickly. Red wine, white wine, beer, and cider are more likely to worsen asthma. In addition, clear spirits like vodka do not trigger an asthma attack because they contain less histamine and fewer sulfites. Why an alcoholic drink makes your asthma worse? Alcoholic beverages contain preservatives that are known to bring asthma symptoms, and these substances are explained below:

  1. Histamines- Histamines contributes to airway inflammation in the lungs. It is the chemical that naturally produces during asthma and allergy responses.
  2. Sulfites- Sulphites are used in a variety of foods and are the common preservative added in beer and wine. Some asthmatics may also develop an allergy to sulfites so the substance can trigger both allergy and asthma symptoms. This is the well-accepted theory that links alcohol with asthma. Wines are found to have high levels of histamines, and if you are sensitive to it, it could bring your asthma symptoms. The good news is that very few people are histamine intolerant.

Alcohol consumption can make you more likely to react to other triggers that could contribute to asthma symptoms. According to the research studies, people who drink more than the recommended amount of alcohol per week become more sensitive towards asthma triggers like pollen, dust, and pollution.

Alcohol cause you to Dehydrate

You might think when beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages are drinks, and they contain mostly water, how would they dehydrate you? Well, if you drink alcohol, you might have noticed that makes you urinate more than usual. Studies revealed that drinking 200 ml of alcohol makes you pee out 320 ml, so this means if you drink in excess, you can dehydrate your body.  Dehydration is also a side effect of alcohol. Now, why is that so? Here comes the role of the hypothalamus which is responsible for homeostasis. It helps to maintain the state of normalcy inside the human body and take part in regulating water inside the body. Hypothalamus produces two hormones namely vasopressin and anti-diuretic hormone ADH. Anti-diuretic hormone, as the name suggests, it prevents you from urinating. This way your hypothalamus is constantly performing its function by checking the water level in the bloodstream. You are dehydrated if the blood water levels are low. This signals your body to produce more ADH hormone to release into your bloodstream. It then causes the release of ADH hormone and then attaches to ADH receptors in your kidney which allows your kidneys to put water back into the bloodstream. This way your body conserves water and helps to rehydrate you.

When you consume alcohol, it tends to suppress ADH which means your hypothalamus is making less ADH and you and hence you have low levels of ADH. This makes alcohol diuretic which ultimately makes you pee more. Therefore, excessive alcohol consumption can cause dehydration. This dehydration often becomes the reason behind your hangover the next day which in turn brings asthma symptoms.

Also Read: 5 Early Signs of Asthma

Ways to Cut the Risk of Asthma from Alcoholic Beverages

With asthma triggers, make sure you are using your preventer asthma medicine every day as prescribed by your health care specialist. This helps your body less likely to react against triggers. Other essential tips include:

  1. If you wish to drink, stick to the drink that you have already tried or which you feel are tolerable. But prefer trying some non-alcoholic alternatives. You can also go with low sulfites wines.  But with asthma, triggers can change, so you can find any alcoholic drink to become a trigger. Therefore, it is better to avoid drinking as much as possible.
  2. Have your reliever drug handy- You might need your reliever any time to help you if you get asthma symptoms. It is advisable for asthma patients always to carry an asthma action plan in their phones so it will be easy even for your friends and loved ones to help you whenever your symptoms get worse.
  3. Try not to skip your preventer medicine- taking your preventer medicine as per your health care specialist’s instruction is the best defence against asthma triggers. It makes your airways less likely to react towards a trigger and prevent an asthma attack.