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  #1  
Old 11-05-2005, 11:20 PM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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Why Does Alcohol Have This Effect On Me?

I hope there is a factual answer to this. It's a curious thing. After 3 or 4 sips of any kind of alcoholic beverage, I get this feeling in my upper body- scapula, clavicles, and shoulders. It's not so much pain, as pressure, Maybe just ever so slightly painful, but not that bothersome. It's a sensation that doesn't interfere with my movements, it doesn't involve the heart or lungs but more muscular maybe. After the first or second drink, it does seem to go away. Or maybe I just don't mind it as much.

I do have rosacea, so maybe it has something to do with the vascular system. I also consider myself to be Highly Sensitive, so maybe it's something that everyone feels to a much slighter degree. Although I have asked a couple of other people and they don't seem to feel it.

Anybody?
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  #2  
Old 11-05-2005, 11:29 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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I know a fair amount about the psychopharmacology of alcohol and I have never heard of such a thing. That doesn't mean much except that what you experience is probably rare. How soon does it start from when you drink the first sip until you feel the sensation? There are some allergic reactions to alcohol that happen very quickly but for it to be in any significant quantity in your bloodstream takes some time. Plus, you said it goes away after a little more. Very puzzling.
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Old 11-05-2005, 11:37 PM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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It starts to happen after just the first few sips. Now I'm wondering if it is a part of a small allergic reaction. I also get very congested in the nose, and I can get sick from more than 3 in three hours. I can't and don't drink much. But this happens with less than one glass. Like I said, it doesn't really bother me. I've always just been really curious as to why.
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  #4  
Old 11-06-2005, 12:08 AM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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There is a set of genes that causes an inactive enzyme for breaking down alcohol in some people. The enzyme is aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) and about 50% of people of Asian descent lack it (I have no idea if you are Asian; it occurs less frequently in other groups too). It causes facial flushing, increased pulse, and a few other things. It isn't considered dangerous. Many people with the inactive enzyme drink with the condition anyway but many find it uncomfortable and avoid alcohol.

I can't give you any medical advice. However, there are many people that have rapid onset of symptoms after taking a drink and some of those symptoms are vascular.
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  #5  
Old 11-06-2005, 12:18 AM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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Thanks, Shagnasty. Now I have something to google and research. I'm not Asian, but I have recently been researching, and I seem to have a lot of little genetic quirks. Kind of fascinating, at least to me, how I seem to have all these little things that "5 percent of the population has" or the like. I always knew I was special, though.

You've given me something to work with- I appreciate it!
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  #6  
Old 11-06-2005, 12:20 AM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trublmakr
... I get this feeling in my upper body- scapula, clavicles, and shoulders. It's not so much pain, as pressure, Maybe just ever so slightly painful, but not that bothersome. It's a sensation that doesn't interfere with my movements, it doesn't involve the heart or lungs but more muscular maybe. After the first or second drink, it does seem to go away. Or maybe I just don't mind it as much.

Anybody?
Aboult how old are you? Has this been a life-long phenomenon, or is it a relatively recent development? If the latter, please e-mail me if you wish for a bit more info.
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  #7  
Old 11-06-2005, 12:25 AM
Savannah Savannah is offline
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Okay, here's mine. Sometimes, if I have a drink, I get a very, very tight feeling in my neck and shoulders, a real tense, painful ache. I end up moving my head and neck around, trying to loosen it up, and it can be quite painful. Sometimes that stretching only makes it worse. It doesn't happen every time I drink alcohol--if it did, I'd be a teetotaler! (Spelling?) But it happens enough. It's disconcerting. I'm 40, and it's happened to me since I was in my mid-twenties. It's like a muscular seizing, right in the neck and shoulders.
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  #8  
Old 11-06-2005, 12:25 AM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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I'm 37. It's been happening for a long time. But you do have me curious as to what information you have.
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  #9  
Old 11-06-2005, 12:29 AM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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It does kind of sound like the same thing, Savannah. Except I don't recall mine being so much in my neck. And it's every time.
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  #10  
Old 11-06-2005, 12:57 AM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trublmakr
I'm 37. It's been happening for a long time. But you do have me curious as to what information you have.
If it had been a new development for you (say less than a year), it might, very rarely, have indicated the presence of Hodgkin's Disease. This is a very uncommon manifestation of HD, meaning that if someone does get alcohol induced pain, it's still much more likely due to something other than the Hodgkin's.
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  #11  
Old 11-06-2005, 10:38 AM
SenorBeef SenorBeef is online now
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Often when the effects of alcohol are starting to wear off, I get a really nasty pain in my upper arms and shoulders. It's sort of related to the feeling of muscles falling asleep, but much more painful, and comes with a strong soreness sensation. Very unpleasant.
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  #12  
Old 11-06-2005, 11:10 AM
Helen's Eidolon Helen's Eidolon is offline
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Me too. It hasn't happened for a while, but when I was younger alcohol would sometimes cause horrible muscle tightening and pain in my upper shoulders and neck. It certainly didn't take much alcohol to do it, either.
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  #13  
Old 11-06-2005, 01:23 PM
choosybeggar choosybeggar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarlGauss
If it had been a new development for you (say less than a year), it might, very rarely, have indicated the presence of Hodgkin's Disease. This is a very uncommon manifestation of HD, meaning that if someone does get alcohol induced pain, it's still much more likely due to something other than the Hodgkin's.
I remember hearing some symptom linked to HD and beer consumption in Med School. I could never remember what the symptom was, though. Is this it? Are there refs in the literature?
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  #14  
Old 11-06-2005, 02:49 PM
jnglmassiv jnglmassiv is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trublmakr
After 3 or 4 sips of any kind of alcoholic beverage, I get this feeling in my upper body- scapula, clavicles, and shoulders. It's not so much pain, as pressure,
I sometimes get that too. For me, it's a kind of tickling pressure..hard to describe, actually. I've found it is usually after the first few sips of a strong cocktail/shot. Beer or wine don't do it. A sip of whiskey will almost always give the tickles.
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  #15  
Old 11-06-2005, 07:01 PM
Savannah Savannah is offline
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Do you know how comforting it is to read that this happens to other people, too? I thought I was alone.

It doesn't happen every time, and it doesn't seem to matter what kind of alcohol it is (I generally drink vodka, rye, beer, and wine). It's a slowly increasing painful tightening in the neck/shoulders, and as I sip/surf/read, I start to do weird stretchy things to try and alleviate it. Then it generally goes away. With another drink. Heh.

But sometimes it's been strong/painful enough to bring on a bit of nausea and the need to take a hot shower for comfort.

At least it doesn't occur every time, maybe only 5-10% of the time, if that.
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  #16  
Old 11-06-2005, 11:36 PM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by choosybeggar
Are there refs in the literature?
There are a few listed on PubMed and a good number of others which seem not to have been included therein (this is pretty fresh on my mind since the topic came up on ward rounds a couple of months ago).

IIRC, the symptom used to be much more common than it is nowadays. I have no idea why.

Here are the PubMed refs:

1. Ann Oncol 1998

2. From the orthopedic literature

3. A case series

4. Note the title!

5. A bunch of case reports and "mini-reviews" all from the 1950's

Hope this is of interest.
- KG
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  #17  
Old 11-07-2005, 12:19 AM
neutron star neutron star is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty
I know a fair amount about the psychopharmacology of alcohol
If I may piggyback on the OP's question while this thread has the attention of those in the know, I have a slightly different query regarding intolerance to alcohol.

On roughly 75% of the times I drink, I just can't do it. My stomach starts hurting like hell, sometimes from the very first sip of beer. The last time I tried, I managed three beers in four hours and felt like I was going to vomit the entire time. In almost all of these cases, I get deeply depressed as I continue to force myself to drink. Usually I give up around the third beer.

I have also found that if I take my prescribed Xanax before drinking, I don't get this sensation at all. I can pound four beers in less than an hour without pain, and I'm invariably a happy drunk.

Does anyone have an idea as to why this occurs?
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  #18  
Old 01-02-2013, 05:49 PM
eloisimo eloisimo is offline
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I am very glad to find that others have experienced similar things to me, I thought I was alone!
I am 18 and every time I have any alcoholic drink I get a neck and back pain almost immediately, upon the first sip. For me, it's a dull aching sensation, and sometimes spreads to my arms. It feels as though my muscles are heavy and tight. The pain always lasts 15 - 20 minutes for me, without fail. It is uncomfortable, but not painful enough for me to avoid alcohol completely

A few people I've told think it might be psychological, but surely this would mean I would only get it when I knew I was drinking enough alcohol to set it off and this isn't true (one day at church I took a larger than normal sip of communion wine and got the pain, which I was definitely NOT expecting!)

The other explanation I can think of is that the alcohol relaxes my muscles too quickly and this is what causes the ache (it is a muscle relaxant). The pain is definitely worse when I've done exercise and tends to target weaker areas (eg. if I've been leaning over a computer all day it's my back, if I've been carrying a bag it's my arm).

I would be very interested to find out what causes this, but going to the doctors seems very over-dramatic for such a small problem, and I can't find an answer anywhere on the internet... I guess I'll just have to do some home experimenting!
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  #19  
Old 01-02-2013, 05:55 PM
teela brown teela brown is offline
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I don't drink anymore, but I remember something similar happening to me when I did.

In the book The Wayward Bus, Steinbeck was writing about one of the characters setting out to get drunk one day. Right after she started drinking, she noticed "a curious but pleasant pain" in her arms and shoulders (I'm paraphrasing from memory). I remember reading that and recognizing that sensation right away.
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  #20  
Old 01-02-2013, 06:14 PM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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Visceral symptoms are poorly localized and can be protean in how they present. The distribution and timing of your symptoms suggest you may be getting reflux--or even just a sensation related to relaxation of the lower esophageal ring.

The problem with going to a smart doctor like Karl Gauss is that, while his differential is cleverer, it's generally more frightening.

Common things present commonly, and an uncommon presentation for a common thing is still commoner (usually) than a common presentation of an uncommon thing.

Stick with us bozos or you'll end up really really nervous.

Last edited by Chief Pedant; 01-02-2013 at 06:14 PM..
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  #21  
Old 01-03-2013, 12:05 AM
chinchalinchin chinchalinchin is offline
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Sometimes after a long night of drinking, I wait up the next morning tired as hell with a raging headache and a nasty case of dry mouth. I've had this problem ever since I started drinking. I think I must be allergic to alcohol.
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  #22  
Old 07-09-2013, 11:07 AM
nankamo nankamo is offline
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I have something like that too that I have always wondered about. I don't drink much alcohol at all, but one or two sips in and there is the shoulder aches. I also brew Kombucha which is a health drink but since it is fermented is can produce alcohol but tiny amounts only. I measured and its .05% by volume, pretty much an undetectable amount but I get the flare up in the shoulders so I know there is alcohol in it, small as it may be. Everyone I know thinks I am just nuts, "No, its JUST you!" is all I hear. I'm glad that its NOT just ME, but still wonder what the heck is going on. It happens more with wine or hard liquors but not so much with beers.
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  #23  
Old 07-09-2013, 12:50 PM
bump bump is offline
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Isn't alcohol a vasodilator? I'd think the congestion and the muscle aches might have something to do with that myself, but I'm not a doctor, so take it with a grain of salt.
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