The flush: Red faced drinkers

  • By Dr. T Deepa Porkodi

When you drink an alcoholic beverage, the ethanol in it is absorbed into the blood stream via the oesophagus, stomach and intestine. The time for alcohol to be absorbed into your bloodstream can range anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours.
The absorption depends on several factors like your sex, age, body mass, strength of the alcohol consumed and the amount of food lining your stomach. Once the alcohol is absorbed into your blood stream, it reaches your brain where it causes an altered mental status.

Facial flushing after drinking alcohol means that you are at a high risk of developing high blood pressure and related complications.

In many people there is flushing of face where the face turns bright red. This is referred to as Alcohol Flush Reaction. It occurs due to the body’s inability to completely break down the alcohol ingested.

The reason why this happens is due to a lack of the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 that is responsible in breaking the acetyldehyde. The acetyldehyde is a by-product of alcohol and is a toxin. When it is not broken down it starts accumulating and causes this red flush.

Facial flushing is an indicator of high alcohol sensitivity and is a potential inducer of heart attacks and strokes.

Along with the red flush the other symptoms that drinkers report is nausea, a sense of dizziness, headaches and an increase pulse rate.

The Flush is commonly seen in people of Asian descent, so scientists call it The Asian Flush too. It isn’t clear as to why Asians have a higher chance of suffering from The Flush.

People who develop The flush when they drink are at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure. High blood pressure can further increase the chances of heart attacks and strokes.
People who already suffer from high blood pressure should be extra careful as an incident of The flush may lead to stroke or heart attack!