Knowing When Asian Flush Might Be Telling You Something February 18 2015

One of the most significant parts of drinking responsibly is listening to your body. Some people, when they have even less than a drink, will start experiencing Asian flushing to a degree that’s noticeable to everyone around them and, certainly, noticeable to them. A fast beating heart, the feeling that the room is getting hotter and hotter and the characteristic red glow in the face and neck can make what should be a fun night miserable.

Asian flush doesn’t come in equal degrees in every different person. Knowing your body is important to deciding what’s a responsible amount of drinking for you. If you’re not the only person in the room with a red face but you are the one who has had the least to drink, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you haven’t had enough.

What’s Going on in Your Body

Asian flush is a result of the way some people’s genetics – people of Asian descent constitute the vast majority of those affected – causes their body to break down alcohol. Without getting too far into the technical details, the body breaks down the alcohol part of the way, but a chemical called acetaldehyde builds up in the body far past the levels that it would in a person who didn’t have this particular genetic variation.

That chemical causes the flushing in the cheek, the increased heartbeat, the feeling of getting hot and all of the other, oftentimes very unpleasant, symptoms of Asian flushing. It doesn’t happen at the same rate in all people. Some people may find that they can handle two or three drinks just fine and they barely ever have any symptoms of flushing. Other people may have Asian flush that’s quite noticeable after just one drink, or even less.

Know Your Body

Asian flush has been tied to a greatly increased risk of esophageal cancer. Esophageal cancer is very difficult to detect before it is advanced and is one of the most deadly cancers of all. There are other health risks associated with Asian flush, as well.

If you feel like you have a hard limit as to how much you can drink before flushing sets in, don’t try to use over-the-counter remedies to suppress it and don’t ignore it. Be aware that your limit for responsible drinking might be lower than other people’s, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a drink once in a while to unwind, as long as you’re aware of when to stop.

Legal Stuff: We should remind everyone that our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. If you’re going to drink, do it legally and responsibly; don’t be stupid =).