Updated at: 10-07-2023 - By: John Lau

Ever wondered, “Why do my hands swell when I drink alcohol?” You’re not alone. This common yet puzzling issue can be linked to several factors, including dehydration and blood vessel dilation due to alcohol intake.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the probable causes of this symptom and provide practical solutions to manage it better.

Keep reading if you want answers – and relief.

Causes of Alcohol-Related Hand Swelling

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Alcohol-related hand swelling can be caused by dehydration, blood vessel dilation, and protein deficiency.


Drinking alcohol can lead to dehydration, which in turn may result in hand swelling. Here’s how it unfolds: Alcohol acts as a diuretic, prompting frequent urination and rapid loss of fluid from your body.

This effect intensifies if you’re consuming beverages with a higher alcohol content or mixing drinks with sugary and carbonated liquids—both can exacerbate the dehydrating impact of alcohol.

As your body loses water rapidly, it goes into a defensive mode—it starts retaining more water than usual to prevent dangerous levels of dehydration. Alas! This excess water retention often manifests as edema or swelling in various parts of your body, including hands.

Further worsening the situation is alcohol’s impact on joint lubrication; insufficient hydration reduces the lubrication between joints causing persistent inflammation and discomfort.

Therefore, ensure that you stay hydrated before, during, and after drinking sessions to mitigate this undesired consequence.

Dilation of blood vessels

Alcohol consumption can cause the blood vessels in your body to dilate or widen, leading to hand swelling. When you drink alcohol, it affects the central nervous system and causes a release of certain chemicals that signal the blood vessels to relax and expand.

This dilation increases blood flow throughout the body, including in your hands, which can result in swelling.

This swelling is often temporary and may go away once the effects of alcohol wear off.

However, excessive drinking or prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to chronic inflammation and damage to the blood vessels, making hand swelling more persistent.

It’s important to note that if you experience recurring or severe hand swelling after consuming alcohol, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition or intolerance to alcohol.

Protein deficiency

Protein deficiency can also contribute to hand swelling when drinking alcohol. Protein plays a crucial role in maintaining fluid balance in the body, and inadequate protein intake can lead to fluid retention and edema.

When the body lacks enough protein, it may struggle to regulate fluid levels properly, resulting in swollen hands after alcohol consumption. Ensuring an adequate protein intake through a balanced diet can help prevent this problem and alleviate hand swelling caused by alcohol.

Alcoholic Drinks That Can Cause Hand Swelling

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Drinks high in alcohol content

When consumed in excess, these drinks can lead to dehydration, which is a common cause of water retention and swollen hands.

Furthermore, alcohol acts as a diuretic, increasing urine production and further exacerbating dehydration. This can result in reduced blood volume and increased concentration of salt in the body, leading to fluid retention and swelling.

It’s important for individuals struggling with alcoholism to be mindful of their drink choices and consume them in moderation to minimize the risk of hand swelling and other related health issues.

Drinks high in histamine

Histamine is a natural compound produced by the body and plays a role in various bodily functions, including inflammation.

However, some individuals may have a sensitivity or intolerance to histamine, which can lead to allergic-like reactions, such as swelling.

Certain types of alcohol, particularly red wine and beer, are known to contain higher levels of histamine compared to other alcoholic beverages. When these drinks are ingested by someone with a histamine sensitivity, it can trigger an immune response that includes localized swelling in the hands.

To reduce the risk of experiencing hand swelling from alcohol consumption related to histamine sensitivity or intolerance, individuals may want to consider opting for low-histamine alcoholic options like vodka or clear spirits.

Additionally, avoiding certain foods and ingredients known to be high in histamines (such as aged cheeses or cured meats) may also help minimize symptoms of hand swelling when drinking alcohol.

Sugary drinks

Sugary drinks, such as cocktails or mixers containing soda or fruit juices, can contribute to hand swelling when drinking alcohol. The excessive sugar content in these drinks causes a spike in blood sugar levels, leading to increased insulin production.

This can result in fluid retention and inflammation throughout the body, including the hands. In addition, carbonation from sugary drinks can create gas in the digestive system, causing bloating and swelling in the hands and other extremities.

It’s important for individuals struggling with alcoholism to be mindful of their choice of beverages and opt for lower-sugar alternatives to help alleviate hand swelling caused by alcohol consumption.

How to Prevent Hand Swelling From Alcohol

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Stay hydrated

One of the most important ways to prevent hand swelling when drinking alcohol is to stay hydrated. Proper hydration is crucial for maintaining healthy blood flow and preventing fluid retention.

Here are some tips to help you stay hydrated while consuming alcohol:

  • Drink water in between alcoholic beverages to replenish lost fluids and avoid dehydration.
  • Carry a water bottle with you and take sips regularly throughout the night.
  • Avoid drinks that can dehydrate you further, such as those high in caffeine or sugar.
  • Opt for lighter alcoholic beverages like wine or light beer, which have a lower alcohol content and may be less dehydrating.
  • Eat hydrating foods before and during your drinking session, such as fruits, vegetables, and soups.
  • Be mindful of your alcohol consumption and pace yourself. Drinking too much too quickly can increase the likelihood of dehydration.
  • If you’re planning a night out, make sure to hydrate adequately during the day leading up to it.

Limit salty foods

To help prevent hand swelling when drinking alcohol, it’s important to limit your intake of salty foods. Excess sodium can contribute to water retention in the body, leading to swelling in the hands and other areas.

By reducing your consumption of salty foods, you can help maintain a healthier fluid balance and reduce the likelihood of experiencing hand swelling after consuming alcohol.

  • Opt for fresh ingredients: Choose fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins as the foundation of your meals. These whole foods tend to be naturally lower in sodium compared to processed or packaged options.
  • Read labels carefully: When grocery shopping, take the time to read labels and choose low-sodium or reduced-salt versions of products whenever possible. Look for items with less than 140 mg of sodium per serving.
  • Cook at home: Preparing meals at home gives you control over the amount of salt added to your dishes. Experiment with herbs, spices, and other flavorings instead of relying on excessive salt for taste.
  • Be mindful when dining out: Restaurant meals often contain hidden sources of sodium. Ask for dressings and sauces on the side so you can control how much you use. Consider choosing grilled or steamed options over fried or heavily seasoned dishes.
  • Limit processed snacks: Snack foods like chips, pretzels, and crackers can be high in sodium. Opt for healthier alternatives such as nuts, seeds, or fresh fruits when cravings strike.


In conclusion, hand swelling when drinking alcohol can be attributed to various factors such as dehydrationblood vessel dilation, and protein deficiency.

It is important to stay hydrated, limit salty foods, and consume alcohol in moderation in order to prevent or minimize hand swelling.

If the swelling persists or worsens, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and guidance.