June 7, 2021

Do I have Asian Flush? The most common Asian Flush Symptoms

Have you heard about Asian Flush, or Asian Glow, but aren’t sure if that’s what you’re experiencing? Here’s the most common Asian Flush symptoms and ways to identify this condition.

Asian Flush Symptoms

Of course, everyone experiences Asian Flush in their own way, but many people experience these symptoms when drinking alcohol.

1. Red Flushing

This is the most common and most visible Asian Flush symptom and occurs in most people with this reaction. Red flushing could happen on the face, cheeks, neck, shoulders, chest and upper arms. In more extreme conditions, it can be seen around the body. However, red facial flushing is the most common.

As you can imagine, this reaction to alcohol can be extremely embarrassing, uncomfortable and unpleasant. It’s hard to hide a bright red face when drinking alcohol with this condition. Many people with Asian Flush have reported that this symptom increases social anxiety and makes it hard to enjoy a night out like everyone else.

2. Trouble Breathing

Another common Asian Flush symptom is trouble breathing, or restricted or laboured breathing. This can be particularly strong in those with asthma and can make their asthma symptoms worse. This symptom might feel like when you have a severe allergic reaction and your throat feels tight.

Restricted breathing due to alcohol cannot be ignored. If you experience this type of symptoms, it’s incredibly important to stop drinking alcohol and speak with your doctor.

3. Alcohol Headaches

While many people who drink might experience a headache the day after drinking (a symptom of their hangover) those with Asian Flush can get headaches from alcohol right away. A headache from alcohol could start as soon as their first drink and could be as severe as a migraine.

It’s incredibly difficult to enjoy a night out with friends when your head is pounding.

Asian Flush headaches
Unfortunately, headaches are a very common symptom of Asian Flush

4. Dizziness

Many people with Asian Flush, or alcohol flush reaction, report feeling dizzy after drinking alcohol. Dizziness usually happens with only small amounts of alcohol, rather than feeling dizzy during a hangover the following day. It’s important to keep an eye on your dizziness, especially making sure you can get home safely.

5. Nausea

Unfortunately, those with an alcohol flushing response (another name for Asian Flush) can also experience nausea when drinking. While many of these symptoms sound like those you typically feel when you’re hungover, the main difference is that these are felt right away. So while you may be familiar with feeling nauseated and queasy the day after you drink alcohol, those with Asian Flush might feel this symptom right away.

6. Red Eyes

Can you imagine how embarrassing it can be to get bright red eyes after just one beer? While this symptom doesn’t impact everyone with Asian Flush, getting red eyes is still fairly common. This can be really hard to hide and oftentimes people will ask if you’re OK, making the embarrassment even worse.

7. Increased Heart Rate

Sometimes it can feel like you’ve just run a marathon after drinking just one glass of wine. Many people report increased heart rate, or irregular heart rate, when dealing with Asian Flush. This can make it really hard to enjoy a night out with friends at the bar, or enjoying an alcoholic beverage with coworkers after work.

8. Feeling Hot

Many people with Asian Flush will begin to feel hot after drinking alcohol. This isn’t surprising, especially if you’re also experiencing red facial flushing. This reaction brings blood closer to the surface of your skin, causing it to turn red. Of course, blood is warm so this can increase the skin’s temperature.

It’s important to remember that alcohol actually makes you cold, so it’s vital to keep your overall body temperature in mind when out drinking alcohol.

Can I have Asian Flush even if I’m not Asian?

Asian Flush but not Asian
Is it possible to get Asian Flush even if you're Caucasian?

If you experience any of these Asian Flush symptoms but aren’t of Asian descent, you can still have Asian Flush. This condition is typically called Asian Flush (or Asian Glow) because a large percentage of individuals of East Asian descent experience it. However, Asian Flush syndrome can happen to anyone.

This condition happens to those with an ineffective ALDH2 enzyme in the liver and the body is unable to properly metabolise alcohol. This means that consuming alcohol can trigger Asian Flush, even in those who are not Asian.

How quickly will I experience Asian Flush Symptoms?

Everyone experiences alcohol flushing symptoms slightly differently, but typically symptoms are felt very quickly after consuming alcohol. Commonly, people with Asian Flush will begin to feel negative symptoms after their first alcoholic drink. In extreme cases, they may feel symptoms after just a few sips of alcohol.

People with Asian Flush may also experience worse and more severe hangovers the following day. In extreme cases, individuals have reported feeling symptoms for a few days after drinking alcohol.

And while these symptoms may feel like an allergic reaction, a true allergy to alcohol is very rare. It’s more likely to be Asian Flush, or alcohol flush reaction. However, if you do experience these symptoms to a severe degree, it’s important to speak to your doctor before drinking again. Just because an alcohol allergy is rare, doesn’t mean it never happens.

I think I have Asian Flush - now what?

Want to learn even more about this condition? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Asian Flush for everything you need to know about this condition, its causes and possible treatment. It can be really overwhelming and scary to finally know what’s been happening to you every time you drink alcohol. However, once you better understand this condition, you can work towards reducing your reaction.

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