Image description: A person is sitting in front of a laptop typing. 2 inset pictures show glasses of alcohol and a person experiencing ME/CFS. The title reads: Alcohol intolerance and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome The ME Association logo ( bottom right)

Alcohol intolerance and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome

Maciuch J, Jason LA.  World Journal of Neurology

“Please let us know about your own experiences with alcohol following a diagnosis of ME/CFS. Although seldom mentioned in textbooks or diagnostic criteria I have always believed that it is a very common symptom at the onset of ME/CFS and should be regarded as an important diagnostic feature. Email: feedback@meassociation.org.uk”

Dr Charles Shepherd,
Trustee and
Hon. Medical Adviser
to the ME Association.

Dr Charles Shepherd

Background

The literature is mixed about the occurrence of alcohol intolerance among patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Surveys that asked respondents with ME/CFS whether they experienced alcohol intolerance within a recent time frame might produce inaccurate results because respondents may indicate that the symptom was not present if they avoid alcohol due to alcohol intolerance.

Aim

To overcome this methodologic problem, participants in the current study were asked whether they have avoided alcohol in the past 6 mo, and if they had, how severe their alcohol intolerance would be if they were to drink alcohol.

Methods

The instrument used was a validated scale called the DePaul symptom questionnaire. Independent t-tests were performed among the alcohol intolerant or not alcohol intolerant group. The alcohol intolerant group had 208 participants, and the not alcohol intolerant group had 96 participants.

Results

Using specially designed questions to properly identify those with alcohol intolerance, those who experienced alcohol intolerance vs those who did not experience alcohol intolerance experienced more frequent/severe symptoms and domains. In addition, using a multiple regression analysis, the orthostatic intolerance symptom domain was related to alcohol intolerance.

Conclusion

The findings from the current study indicated that those with ME/CFS are more likely to experience alcohol intolerance. In addition, those with this symptom have more overall symptoms than those without alcohol intolerance.

Core Tip: The findings from the current study indicated that those with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome are more likely to experience alcohol intolerance.

Click here for further information on Alcohol Intolerance
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