Asian Flush or Glow: Is it a Real Thing?

Asian flush

What is Asian Flush?enzyme deficiency

Do Asian people really turn bright red when they drink alcohol? Asian people can definitely look like they’ve blushed after they’ve knocked back a couple. In fact, a large majority of people of East Asian descent turn blood red when they’ve consumed alcohol. The likely reason is a gene deficiency. If you’re Asian, and turn beet red after a beer or glass of wine, it’s not unusual. It’s in your genes and this is called Asian Flush.

The “Asian Flush” is sometimes called the “Asian Glow”. If you’ve got it, you’re definitely not the only one. There’s an online community devoted to the condition. A significant majority of people of East Asian descent experiences the “Asian Flush” after having a drink. It can make socialization and partying difficult, and many people are surprised when they first experience it at a college party. They might think something unusual is wrong with their health, but a majority of Asian people experiences the condition. There is nothing wrong with you particularly for experiencing it. You just need to avoid alcohol or take steps to minimize the symptoms.

The condition is officially called “Alcohol Flush Syndrome”, and it is not limited to Asian people. That’s what medical professionals would probably call it. Even though it’s prevalent in 80% of East Asians, it’s extremely uncommon to see in people of European, African, and Hispanic descent. A person of Jewish descent has a higher than average chance of experiencing the condition. So, it shouldn’t really be called “Asian Flush”. Everyone can experience it. It is just that they experience it more.

If you’re Asian, and you turn the color of a tomato when you drink a little red wine, you probably feel terrible. Drinking socially is a part of every young adult’s life, and it can be harmful to someone’s self-esteem if they turn beet red when they drink. How can someone even enjoy a party when they’re bright red and everyone is looking at them funny?

While Asian Flush might be funny some people, it is serious for people who have to deal with it. It can be very hurtful to someone’s self-esteem to stand out like that. Even thought it can be funny to hear about, it is extremely uncomfortable for Asian people with the genetic deficiency.

What causes the redness?

The likely reason is because of an acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2) enzyme deficiency. What basically happens is that when you imbibe, your liver breaks apart the substances in the alcohol, but individuals without the enzyme can’t process it. It’s just like those who are lactose intolerant and can’t digest dairy because they don’t have the enzyme lactase. Since almost half of Asians lack this enzyme, they experience a wide range of symptoms when they drink alcohol. They might experience dizziness, headache, lightheadedness, rash, a faster heart rate, nausea, and a red face.

Since it’s so difficult to experience, and because there are a lot of symptoms besides just facial redness, it is wise for people with the condition to avoid alcohol together. It can cause a lot of discomfort and pain. And, it can be very unhealthy to keep inundating your body with alcohol if you have it.

How can you prevent it?

You can minimize the redness. There are management tactics. There is no cure, though. You can take anti-heartburn tablet before you consume alcohol. You can also take a special elixir designed to slow the progression and buildup of acetaldehyde in the body. Some doctors suggest avoiding alcohol altogether.

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