What Causes Alcohol Intolerance?
Alcohol intolerance can be caused by anything that affects the function of alcohol dehydrogenase. Incorrect function in alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes can be caused by genetic changes, chemical changes or heredity.
Genetic Alcohol Intolerance
Genetic alcohol intolerance is inherited from one’s parents, and it is caused by a mutation in the gene that the body uses to create alcohol dehydrogenase. This condition is most common in those of Asian descent but can affect anyone, regardless of their ethnic background. This genetic condition will create alcohol intolerance throughout an individual’s entire life.
Alcohol Intolerance as a Result of Disease
Certain diseases can affect how well alcohol dehydrogenase functions. Hodgkin’s lymphoma, ovarian cancer, breast cancer and other diseases can all cause a sudden onset of alcohol intolerance in those who never before experienced difficulty drinking. The sudden development of alcohol intolerance does not necessarily mean that a new disease is present. However, a person in this situation should still seek medical attention to ensure that a health problem has not recently developed.
Alcohol Intolerance as a Result of Medications
Certain medications can create alcohol intolerance by inhibiting the action of alcohol dehydrogenase. The most common medication that creates this side effect is metronidazole (Flagyl), a commonly used antibiotic. Another medication that causes alcohol intolerance is disulfiram (Antabuse). The sole purpose of this medication is actually to create alcohol intolerance, and it is used to deter alcohol use in people struggling with alcohol addiction.