Wine – No Mixer for Your Sinuses

Sorry wine aficionados; this isn’t good news for you. Studies show what some Sinus Survival members have already discovered: wine causes allergic reactions. For most people, they are unaware that wine is the sneaky red devil causing their sinus reactions. After all of that good press on how red wine is good for your heart, what’s the deal?

Heinz Decker, PhD, led a study in Johannes Gutenberg University questioning hundreds of people who lived in wine regions of Germany. There were over 250 people out of 950 who reported having at least mild alcohol intolerance. Many times, those symptoms are thought to derive from other causes. Symptoms of nasal congestion, increased heart rate, rash or reddening of the skin, and even itching were reported.

What causes this? Red wine contains numerous causative factors including bacteria, yeast, and molds. It also has a specific type of protein called “LTP” which is found in the skin of grapes. This protein can cause an allergic reaction which causes histamine production, just like having an allergy attack to offending pollen. The sulfites also cause other reactions in individuals which can include an upset stomach and diarrhea.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms can include allergy-like symptoms: runny nose, sneezing, headaches, and watery eyes. They could also include flushing of the face, nasal congestion, swelling of the nasal passages, and shortness of breath, swelling in the throat or lips and even vomiting in more severe cases.

How do you know if this is causing your problems?

Take the wine test, the next time you have a glass of red wine. After 10 to 15 minutes does your face feel red or do your sinuses feel “stuffy”? Do you feel congestion or do your ears feel plugged? Do you have any of the other symptoms from above?

Many beers, especially the hoppy micro-brewed beers have many of the same bacteria and yeast molds, but they don’t have the sulfites and the “LTP” protein from the grape skins. You might also notice the next time you have a beer if you have some similar reactions. This could be another compounding reason that is keeping your sinuses congested or worse.

What are some alternatives?

Try drinking a glass of white wine next time. It doesn’t have the “LTP” protein because white wine isn’t fermented with the grape skin on. If that still gives you issues, drink sparkling water!

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