Can the alcohol flush reaction be prevented? – For individuals carrying gene variations that impair alcohol metabolism, the best way to prevent alcohol flush reaction is to avoid drinking or to limit alcohol intake. Some information found on the Internet suggests taking antihistamines and certain over-the-counter medications to reduce or hinder alcohol flushing, but these medications do not block the damaging effects of acetaldehyde.
Why does my face get so red when I drink alcohol?
Some people’s faces flush after drinking alcohol. If the body cannot metabolize alcohol effectively, too much of a substance called acetaldehyde can build up. This is toxic and can cause a histamine release, resulting in flushing and other symptoms. People with certain genetic features have a higher chance of flushing. Share on Pinterest A red face after drinking alcohol may be a symptom of high alcohol sensitivity. Facial flushing after drinking alcohol is a symptom of high alcohol sensitivity, which means that the body is less tolerant of alcohol. All alcoholic drinks — including beer, wine, and liquors — contain a substance called ethanol.
- After having a drink, the body begins to break down the ethanol into other substances, or metabolites, to make it easier to flush out of the body.
- One of these metabolites, acetaldehyde, is very toxic to the body.
- When drinking in moderation, the body can usually process these metabolites relatively well.
However, if a person is sensitive to alcohol or has a lot to drink, their body may not be able to manage all of those toxins, and acetaldehyde can begin to build up in the body. The red facial flush happens because the blood vessels in the face dilate in response to these toxins.
In some people, this can happen after very little alcohol. A buildup of acetaldehyde can also cause nausea and a rapid heartbeat. These symptoms may make drinking alcohol an unpleasant experience, leading to people drinking less. While the red flush itself is not acutely dangerous, people who get it are at higher risk of high blood pressure and other health problems.
A 2013 study of Korean men looked at the differences in blood pressure between men who did and did not experience facial flushing when they drank alcohol. After taking factors such as age, weight, smoking, and exercise into account, the researchers found that men who flushed after drinking alcohol had a significantly higher risk of high blood pressure when they drank four or more drinks per week.
In contrast, men who did not flush after drinking did not see an increased risk of high blood pressure until they drank eight or more drinks per week. Studies have also associated drinking alcohol with certain types of cancer. Some researchers believe that this increased cancer risk could be due to the rise in acetaldehyde levels in the body.
Why Does Your Face Turn Red When You Drink?
High levels of acetaldehyde can attack the DNA in the cells of the body, which can trigger the growth of cancer cells. In a 2017 study, researchers looked at the link between cancer and facial flushing after drinking in people in East Asia. Men with facial flushing had a higher risk of cancer, particularly cancer of the throat, which is also called esophageal cancer,
- The researchers did not find the same association in women.
- Whether or not a person’s face goes red after drinking seems to link to their genetic makeup.
- A liver enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) breaks acetaldehyde down into less toxic substances.
- Some people have a genetic condition that means that they do not make this enzyme.
As a result, acetaldehyde builds up in the body after alcohol consumption, which causes the characteristic red flushing of the face. Although anyone can lack this gene, it is more common for people from East Asia not to have it. There is no way to change the genes or enzyme deficiency.
The only way to prevent this red flush and the associated risk for high blood pressure is to avoid or limit the intake of alcohol. Some people use over the counter antihistamines to reduce the discoloration. However, this is not advisable. Although some people may find the flushed skin embarrassing, it is a signal that the body is accumulating toxic levels of acetaldehyde and that it is time to slow down and rehydrate with water.
It is important to recognize that even people who do not get this type of reaction when drinking are still at risk of the health complications of alcohol use, including high blood pressure, liver disease, cancer, and stomach problems. The red flush that some people get while drinking alcohol may not seem serious, but it can indicate that someone has a higher alcohol sensitivity and may have an increased risk of high blood pressure and certain cancers.
While taking antihistamines can help reduce the redness, these drugs only hide the symptoms and do not address the underlying cause. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that if people choose to drink, they do so in moderation. They define moderate amounts as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
If a person has high alcohol sensitivity, meaning a low tolerance to alcohol, they may feel the effects of alcohol more strongly and quickly and may benefit from drinking less alcohol. People who are concerned about this symptom can talk to their doctor for advice.
What causes alcohol intolerance?
Causes – Alcohol intolerance occurs when your body doesn’t have the proper enzymes to break down (metabolize) the toxins in alcohol. This is caused by inherited (genetic) traits most often found in Asians. Other ingredients commonly found in alcoholic beverages, especially in beer or wine, can cause intolerance reactions. These include:
Sulfites or other preservativesChemicals, grains or other ingredientsHistamine, a byproduct of fermentation or brewing
In some cases, reactions can be triggered by a true allergy to a grain such as corn, wheat or rye or to another substance in alcoholic beverages. Rarely, severe pain after drinking alcohol is a sign of a more serious disorder, such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Do alcoholics get rosacea?
While researchers have found that drinking alcohol may increase the risk of getting rosacea, it’s important to know that: People who never drink alcohol can get rosacea. Alcoholism doesn’t cause rosacea.