20/10/2014 10:53 BST | Updated 20/10/2014 10:59 BST

Why Does Your Face Flush Red When You Drink?

For some of us, there's an awkward moment when your face turns red after one alcoholic bevvy.

If this situation is often a reality for you then chances are you've got a genetic disorder. But don't worry, it doesn't pose a risk to your health.

People who flush after they've been drinking suffer from a condition called Alcohol Flush Reaction (AFR).


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What causes this?

The general cause is that people with AFR have a genetic deficiency which causes an enzyme disorder in your liver. This results in your body not being able to break down acetaldehyde - the oxidised version of alcohol.

Your body should, in normal circumstances, break down acetaldehyde into acetate. And from there on, things should run pretty smoothly. In this case, the enzyme which breaks down acetaldehyde into acetate - called ALDH2 - doesn't work.

What you're left with is a buildup of acetaldehyde which causes your blood vessels to dilate and your skin to turn red. Hello flushed face.

What are the symptoms of Alcohol Flush Reaction (other than a flushed face)?

:: Flushing of the neck and body

:: Heightened heart rate

:: Headaches

:: Nausea

You can expect to suffer any of these symptoms after as little as one alcoholic drink.

AFR has also been coined as the 'Asian glow' or 'Asian flush', however it's not just Asian people who suffer from this condition. In fact, 500 million people worldwide suffer from it.

alcohol flush reaction

Can you cure AFR?

Unfortunately not as it's a genetic condition. You can, however, try and control it by:

:: Drinking moderately

:: Choosing drinks with less alcoholic content

:: Eating before and during your drinking session

:: Drinking plenty of water and non alcoholic beverages

The good news: you won't have to fork out on blusher from now on. The bad news: you should probably avoid wearing red, just in case.

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