Do you experience negative symptoms when you drink alcohol and are wondering: “Should I get tested for ALDH2 deficiency?” You’re in the right place!
If you finally want to know whether you have an ALDH2 deficiency (commonly referred to as Asian Flush or Asian Glow) there are a few at-home gene tests that you can complete. This will tell you once and for all if you have this enzyme deficiency, or if your reaction is actually caused by something else. If you really want to know, you will need to buy and complete a genetic test.
However, for most people, experiencing negative symptoms from alcohol is enough to convince them of their ALDH2 deficiency, even if this reaction may be something else, like an allergy to alcohol. For more details on other possible causes of this reaction, make sure to check out our article: Am I allergic to alcohol?
How can I get tested for ALDH2 Deficiency?
A company called ORIG3N offers specific ALDH2 Deficiency tests for $29. This is currently one of the cheapest ways to get this test completed, without having to also test for everything else (like other common DNA tests). This test will definitively let you know if you have ineffective ALDH2 genes once and for all.
ORIG3N is a company based in Boston, USA and focus primarily on very specific genetic tests for a cheaper price. They sell tests designed for metabolism, lactose intolerance, skin health and appearance, nutrition and fitness among many others. This can be really helpful if you want to test for one thing (Asian Flush) without having to pay to test everything else as well.
Many people know of 23andMe, but did you know that ALDH2 deficiency is included in their testing? While 23andMe is one of the top companies for ancestry and health genetic testing, it’s also quite expensive. To get details about your possible ALDH2 deficiency, you’ll need to buy the Ancestry and Health kit bundle (which currently on sale for $149.)
While it’s expensive, you’ll receive a ton of information including your ancestry details and health reports.
Unfortunately, customers are unable to buy the Health kit solo - you have to also buy the Ancestry service as well. If you want to learn about your possible Asian Flush alongside other health and ancestry reports, this is definitely the best test. Otherwise it's a lot of money if you just want to learn about your possible ALSH2 deficiency.
What is ALDH2 Deficiency?
ALDH2 deficiency is when an individual lacks a certain liver enzyme which makes it much more difficult to metabolise alcohol and its toxic byproduct called acetaldehyde. This inability to break down acetaldehyde means that the individual will experience negative symptoms - most commonly, alcohol flushing or turning red. This reaction is typically called alcohol flush reaction because in a sense, alcohol causes the person to flush (along with other symptoms).
The whole process can be a bit confusing, but we have tons of details here: ALDH2 Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
As acetaldehyde accumulate in the body (most likely from drinking alcohol) the individual will experience more symptoms. Some people even become violently ill when this happens and are unable to continue drinking alcohol.
However, acetaldehyde isn’t just in alcohol but is also found in air pollution and in certain foods. For those with an ALDH2 deficiency, it's most likely that consuming alcohol will give you the most noticeable reaction. Want to learn more about acetaldehyde? Make sure to check out our article: Expert's Guide to Breaking Down Acetaldehyde
It’s important to note that people with ALDH2 deficiency have increased risks of certain health concerns, including a higher risk of esophageal cancer. So while not having the ability to break down alcohol can be annoying, it’s also serious for your health.
While this condition impacts millions of people around the world, those of East Asian descent are the most commonly affected. However, Caucasians can have an ALDH2 deficiency as well, including other ethnicities, too.
ALDH2 deficiency symptoms
Of course everyone experiences ALDH2 deficiency symptoms differently, but there’s a few that are very common in most people:
- Feeling hot and/or sweaty
- Experiencing dizziness or nausea
- Increased heart rate or rapid heart rate
- Getting a stuffy nose or nasal congestion
- Red facial flushing (People may also get red cheeks, face, shoulders, upper arms and/or chest. However, getting a red face from alcohol is the most common)
Still not sure if you should get tested for ALDH2 deficiency?
If you’re really not sure what to do next, it’s best to speak with your doctor. Negative symptoms such as facial flushing can be a real sign from your body that something is wrong. Your doctor will be able to give you more information about your specific case, what to do next and whether an ALDH2 deficiency test is worth your time and money.
Consuming alcohol should always be done responsibly and in moderation, especially if you deal with an ALDH2 deficiency.