Possible reason why alcohol and AF do not mix - inflammation

We recently had an interesting discussion about possible links between inflammation, the vagus nerve and AF. So I was very interested to read part of an article about hayfever in this today's issue of the i newspaper. I can't give a link but you may be able to find it on line.

Under the heading 'Alcohol aggravators' was written, 'Alcohol is loaded with histamine, which is known to cause an inflammatory response .........with wine a particular risk'.

I had no idea, and wonder if it is connected to my response to wine which is very red cheeks 😳 as I do suffer from various allergies. So many people have identified wine as a trigger I wonder if that is the link?

32 Replies

  • Sorry but when alcohol was an issue to me it wasn't the alcohol as I had just as much trouble with non alcoholic beers and wines. These are made in the normal way and then have the alcohol taken out by osmosis so whatever it was it was something else in the process.

    That said inflammation of any kind can be contributory to lots of conditions. The thing that I do not fully understand is that binge drinking is known to be an actual cause of AF which once established can be triggered by lots of other things or nothing at all. Equally many people are not affected. We are all different.

  • True, and those who are badly affected by histamine will be badly affected by alcohol, particularly red wine. Other foods with high levels of histamine are fish, tomatoes, cheese and pickles.

  • When I used to drink red wine my nose got bunged up. I persevered through this inconvenience of course, only to have to stop because of A.F. Maybe there is a connection with the histimine. X

  • I always put it down to a wine with more sulphides than others.

  • I got to the stage when even a sip, and I do mean a sip, triggered AF. Red wine was the first, then white wine - strangely bubbly wine did not??!!

    I think you may have a point there Buffafly - very interesting. The links between so many diseases with inflammation is only just being thoroughly explored, I think conventional medical thinking was that inflammation was a symptom, which now seems to be shifting into trigger or even a cause.

    I also think allergies and autoimmune diseases are linked to childhood environments, this had been researched but there is also a lot of anectodal evidence. Children who are brought up in near sterile environments - I was as all my family were medics and 'germs' and all 'dirty' environments such as soil, mud, animals etc were all 'dangerous'. There is evidence from many studies now that children from these types of families are MUCH more likely to suffer allergies such as hay fever, asthma, gut problems, skin rashes etc and are more prevalent to disease as their defences against pathogens are lower.

    All of that fits with the Histamine explanation in foods.

  • aaaaaaargh,some of my favorite foods :-(

  • Also, I think the fact that alcohol is so dehydrating is the major, more direct contributor to alcohol related AF episodes. Being dehydrated is a very frequent trigger for many people. And while talking about dehydration, it's good to remember that hydration is really key on these hot and humid days of summer.

  • I agree re dehydration - very rare to have very hot weather in UK though!

    I also think that inflammation and dehydration are very different triggers.

  • Sorry again but so many of us who are/were affected by alcohol had an instant hit from even one small sip so while I agree that good hydration is vital this is not the problem. I was once knocked out almost completely by eating a profitter role which had brandy in the chocolate sauce. One bite and I was away.

    CD's point about immune system diseases and childhood environment is really not a new idea. I remember thirty or more years ago reading that leukaemia was almost unknown in children from poor black areas of New York whilst much more common in the more affluent white areas. If you don't give your immune system something to do it goes looking for a job and rather sadly often ends up attacking its own host body. I grew up making mud pies. crashed my bike regularly, fell out of trees and generally was at one with nature in the raw. One of the most obsessive cleaners I know has RA in spades.

  • I find antihistamine tablets help me to sleep and not suffer night sweats. I only half s tablet to be affective.

  • Wow - 15 years of night sweats, what have I got to lose by trying this? Thanks Elaine!

  • My mother was allergic to antihistamine drugs, her face would swell up. She also hadwhat we called the Chinese gene in that she could not tolerant even slightamounts of alcohol, her nose would go red with a sip of wine.

    Not sure whether that's a link or not.

    I cant drink alcohol becuse of AF but I drink alcolhol free wine and beer which unlike Bob dont affect me.


  • When I was first diagnosed, wine gave me the feeling I might go into AF, so I avoided it. But 8 years later, red wine now calms my heart and has a healthy and steadying effect on my AF. I consciously try to have a glass or two of red wine a few times a week - with only positive effects. I believe when I was initially diagnosed I was severely dehydrated.

  • I'm sure that I don't get any reaction from red wine.

  • There is a link between alcohol and histamine, see:


    Alcohol intolerance is particularly common amongst those from an oriental background.

    I sympathise with those who can't take alcohol, in moderation it is one of life's pleasures and is good for you as well.


  • I watched a very interesting programme which followed a programme about getting older this week. Talked about all these super foods etc which cost lots and gave alternatives which where less costly and did the same in so far as the benefits were the same. Interestingly, the programme talked about drinking water and I was very interested as I have certainly increased my water consumption. However, milk was offered as being better than water as it hydrates you for longer. Water goes through you as I know so back to basics for me a glass or two of semi skimmed milk which I can see the benefits of.

  • We really enjoyed that programme and cheered at nearly every conclusion as they were what we had been telling people for years. I had heard of the milk one before but had been dubious about it.

    The Truth About Healthy Eating repeated on Tuesday on BBC1 at 23.45 or on IPlayer.

    I think it was Trust Me I'm a Doctor in an episode about fats that recently said to ignore the hype about skimmed and semi skimmed milk.

    Back in the late 50's and 60's I used to drink a lot of milk as the company I worked for had a vending machine with cartons of milk. In later years the companies I worked for had tea/coffee/chocolate vending machines and I often had ten cups of coffee a day.

  • Remember 'Drink a pint of milk a day' and 'Go to work on an Egg'!! Never did any harm to me or my children and we thrived!!

  • I never gave up on milk but took tasteless semi skimmed for a while but as with everything the original is better.

    At one time I probably had three eggs a day. I remember at the end of the war staying with relatives who had a Croft in the Highlands. Everyone we went to visit thought that I had not seen an egg for years and promptly cooked one for me and I was having five a day straight from the hen.

    Also when up there I used to go to the next Croft morning and night to collect milk straight from Daisy the cow. A glass of that still warm gave you a good nights sleep:-)

    Edwina Curry and cholesterol scares cut my egg intake down to three a week but I have at least six now. Diabetic web sites recommend eggs as one of the best breakfast.

  • How you bring back memories!! My mother used to send me on holiday to a farmer friend and living as I did in London I just loved the freedom and the animals. Like you I drank milk straight from the cow in the dairy and how creamy it was!! Also my favourite hobby back at home in North London was to help the milkman when he delivered in our road and be allowed to ride on the wagon pulled by Ginger the horse as a reward!!

  • Now both Crofts are in ruins. We took my mothers ashes up there and scattered then in the shell of her Granny's Croft where she spent a lot of time as a child.

    My wife's uncle was a milkman in Wembley pre and post war. His horse knew every house that he had to stop at.

  • I love red wine but more than any other drink I feel most at risk of a late AF episode if I even have just one glass. So far, prosecco and real ale feel safer to drink, but I do it very much in moderation as the jury is still out on those. It's the fact that other things like cold sugary drinks late at night and big meals can alert me to impending AF that makes me think a little bit of alcohol is worth the risk.

  • I suffered from asthma as a small child (whilst living in the centre of a very large city).

    Moved into a more rural area aged 3 and the asthma gradually went. I lived in the park, paddled in the streams, fished, picked up worms, bugs, had a dog - got down and dirty every day but when the hormones kicked in at 11, my allergies went into overdrive and I sneezed and itched from morning till night and lived on antihistamines. It all stopped in my late twenties when I became pregnant with my first child. When I went into the menopause, it all started again and eventually a Consultant told me it was because of the hormone changes and true enough, as the hormones settled down, so did the allergies.

    Not sure about the red wine reaction but it is made from plants so if you're allergic to them - who knows. I no longer drink alcohol but when I did, I suspect it was a trigger to my AF.

    Bob: I now have a form of leukaemia so, given my childhood experiences, I suspect the research you quoted is true.


  • It seems to me that it is not what you eat and drink but how much you consume and little and often has helped me no end!

  • Alcohol is definitely a trigger for me and I also suffer very badly with hayfever!

  • I stopped drinking wine completely shortly after diagnosis and found that alcohol-free wine caused ectopics. I always flushed when having wine but it became severe when I tried wine with AF! There is a lot of interesting information on 'Asian Flush Syndrome' and acetaldehyde (spelling?) - produced in the breakdown of alcohol - which can cause, amongst other things, flushing, inflammation and rapid heartbeat.

    Still miss a nice glass or two . . . .

  • My understanding of alcohol is that it is both a stimulant and depressant. Like caffeine and nicotine ,people with AF should avoid all these stimulants. Found out the hard way I was allergic to antihistamines. Took some over the counter meds for a bad cold one time. Thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest. I made sure it was noted on my medical charts.

  • I take antihistamine tabs every day but I can't take 'cold remedies ' because they contain pseudoephedrine which causes severe palpitations/tachycardia if you are sensitive, similar to adrenaline in injections.

  • I checked out the info on pseudo ephedrine and it correlates with the reaction i had . It was probably that I had the problem with :-o

  • Speaking as a long-term AF patient and also someone that enjoys a drink, my scientific background led me to the conclusion that the worst of my AF episodes (and two TIA's) were associated with drinking several pints of beer beyond the recommended daily limit. As a result I decided not to have more than two pints in a session; not only was I surprised to find how easy this was to achieve (I did explain my sudden 'loss of thirst' to my friends and they were very supportive), but I noticed almost immediately how much better I felt. When drinking more, I rarely suffered hang-overs but on my 2-pint routine I found I was much brighter in the morning.

    More importantly, since being on my 2 pint maximum, I find I am rarely even aware of the AF.

    There was an excellent TV documentary last year in which identical twins - who are both MD's - decided to experiment with the recommended weekly allowance of 24 unit; one twin drank the daily allowance each day and the other drank nothing on 6 days and then binged the whole week's allowance in one session. The effect on their bodies was closely monitored - what struck me most was the effect on their heart - alcohol caused it to swell and , when excessive alcohol was present, heart beats tended to become irregular. The effects vary depending on the bodies efficiency in breaking the alcohol down into acetaldehyde and then, secondarily, breaking down the acetaldehyde. Some people are better at these processes than others - thus the reason some people get worse hangovers - but it does seem that the efficiency of these processes declines with age; at 79 I feel this is a significant factor for me and, as such, a strong incentive to stick to my 2 pint regime.

  • I have paf and can be in af once or twice a week however I have not had an attack for about 3 weeks and realise that I have been taking antihistamines 4 or 5 times a week for bunged up nose an sinuses so now I am wondering if there is a connection has anyone else found that antihistamines reduce af attacks?

  • Could also be connected to snoring/sleep apnoea?

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