The symptoms that are triggered after drinking alcohol are by all known, but sometimes, they can give clues to other ailments that we would not have thought about before. For example, cancer .
In some very rare cases, there is a type of cancer, more common in young people, that can trigger symptoms when drinking. It is lymphoma cancer , a blood cancer whose symptoms include a lump in the neck, armpit or groin, feeling tired for no reason, unexplained weight loss, excessive night sweating, and constant itching for no reason.
There are about 60 different types of lymphomas, which are broadly grouped into Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Alcohol-related symptoms are seen in people with Hodgkin lymphoma.
About one in 20 patients will experience alcohol-induced pain, specifically in the lymph nodes , glands commonly found in the neck, armpit, and groin.
Dr Graham Collins , a consultant hematologist with the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation, says that the lymph nodes are “packed with abnormal cells” when cancer is present.
Speaking to The Sun , he explained: “Alcohol can relax the blood vessels, which can lead to a further increase in pressure within the lymph nodes , putting pressure on the surrounding capsule and causing pain.”
Women with Hodgkin lymphoma are more likely to have pain when drinking, according to an article by Harvard doctors. “The alcohol content of a liquor-filled chocolate or even a sip of beer has been reported to trigger pain,” they explain.
“The onset of pain is immediate; patient descriptions of pain range from ‘painful’ to ‘stabbing,’ and the intensity ranges from mild to excruciating, forcing some patients to quit alcohol altogether,” adds the paper .
Some patients have also reported taking pain relievers when they drink, unaware that the pain was a warning sign of a fatal disease.
For example, in a case recorded in Nashville , Tennessee, a 31-year-old man had been taking ibuprofen every time he drank for three months. When he went to the hospital, he explained a history of severe chest pain minutes after ingesting just two or three sips of alcohol.
The man also had occasional fevers, night sweats and general fatigue, doctors said.
Scans showed the man had a mass in his lung and a biopsy of a lymph node in his trachea confirmed the diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma.
Fortunately, the treatment put him in full remission, and he was able to enjoy the drink again, as the chemotherapy quickly stopped the chest pain.