Alcohol-induced upper airway symptoms: prevalence and co-morbidity

Respir Med. 2005 Jun;99(6):762-9. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2004.11.010. Epub 2005 Jan 21.


Little is known about effects of alcohol intake on the upper, nasal airways. The present aim was to examine the prevalence of alcohol-induced nasal symptoms (ANS) and to explore associations between ANS and other respiratory diseases. A postal questionnaire focused on respiratory diseases and symptoms was sent to 11,933 randomly selected adult individuals. Subjects with ANS, n = 316 (3.4%) received a second questionnaire focusing on this condition. Nine thousand three hundred and sixteen (78%) subjects answered the first and 228 (72%) the second questionnaire. Two-thirds of the subjects with ANS were women. Red wine and white wine were the most frequent triggers of ANS, reported by 83% and 31% of the subjects, respectively. Nasal blockage was the most prominent symptom, but also sneezing, nasal discharge, as well as lower airway symptoms occurred after intake of alcoholic drinks. Self-reported physician's diagnoses of asthma, chronic bronchitis/emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as allergic rhinitis were more common in subjects with ANS compared with the general population (P < 0.001 for all comparisons). In conclusion, ANS are common and are about twice as frequent in women than in men. ANS seem to be associated with important respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, COPD, and allergic rhinitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholic Beverages / adverse effects*
  • Asthma / complications
  • Chronic Disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / complications
  • Rhinitis / epidemiology
  • Rhinitis / etiology*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / complications
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires