In The Queen’s Gambitepisode 2, “Exchanges,” Beth overhears Allston and Alma arguing over him taking the car on a business trip, with him remarking “Remember what the doctor said. Some exercise will do you good.” In addition to establishing that Allston is an absentee husband, treating his wife poorly and spendings weeks away from home, the conversation also sets up that Alma has some medical issues. Later in the episode, when Allston unexpectedly returns home a week early (but only to stay the night), he makes the snide remark “I’ll have a beer — if there’s any left.” This hints that Alma also had a drinking problem, which at that point she had been successful in hiding from Beth.
As the series progressed, there were more hints that Alma was unwell. She first sent Beth to fill her tranquilizer prescription because she was sick in bed with an unknown illness. Later, Allston comments (unkindly) that Alma is sick a lot. If she did suffer from the autoimmune version of hepatitis — which is three times more likely in women than men — it would explain why her symptoms varied and were chronic. With the exception of jaundice, most symptoms of hepatitis are subtle, like abdominal pain, weight loss, and general flu-like symptoms. All the times Alma thought she was sick with a cold could have been signs of her damaged liver.