Ever had a glass of wine and wondered why you were feeling hot and sweaty afterwards?
We all know that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to dizziness, nausea and headaches. But alcohol can also influence your core body temperature, blood pressure and overall skin temperature. This can lead you to feeling flush, hot and sweaty after just a few drinks.
Here’s some reasons why you might feel hot when you drink alcohol.
Alcohol Flush Reaction
Millions of people around the world deal with an alcohol flushing reaction, or an alcohol intolerance. The most noticeable symptoms of this condition is feeling hot and flushed when you drink alcohol.
While this red flushing usually happens on the face and cheeks, it can actually appear all over the body, such as neck, chest and arms. Sometimes the flushed skin can even look like hives or urticaria, similar to what you’d see during an allergic reaction. The skin usually feels hot to the touch and can be bright red - not exactly the look you'd want out at the bar.
But why does this reaction happen to some of us, and not all?
Alcohol flushing happens when an individual has an ineffective liver enzyme. Normally this enzyme helps metabolise alcohol until it’s completely eliminated from the body. However, in those with this liver enzyme deficiency (sometimes referred to as an ALDH2 deficiency) a toxic byproduct begins to build up in their system. This chemical is called acetaldehyde. You can read the in-depth Expert’s Guide to Breaking down Acetaldehyde to find out more about this harmful chemical.
In short, because the liver cannot easily break down acetaldehyde, it floods the body. It is acetaldehyde that causes the flushing reaction, along with other negative symptoms when drinking alcohol. Certain supplements like Sunset Alcohol Flush Reduction helps your body break down toxic acetaldehyde quicker so you experience less side effects from alcohol and aren't exposed to acetaldehyde as long.
If you have this condition and drink alcohol, you might experience:
- Feeling warmer overall
- A hot, flushed face and/or body
- Body heat rises
- Headaches and/or migraines
- Stuffy nose
- Red and itchy eyes
- Feeling sick and uncomfortable
Some might confuse this condition with an alcohol allergy, but that is actually extremely rare. If you feel these types of symptoms when drinking alcohol, but to an extreme level, it’s important to speak to your doctor before drinking alcohol again. While a true alcohol allergy is very rare, it still exists.
If you experience these types of symptoms without the extreme severity, it’s like that you’re dealing with alcohol intolerance, or alcohol flush reaction.
Is it dangerous to get hot when you drink alcohol?
The body doesn’t get red and hot from drinking alcohol by accident. This is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong and it shouldn't be ignored.
The main issue with alcohol flush reaction is that individuals with this condition are more likely to develop certain cancers, such as esophageal cancer, or expose themselves to potential DNA damage from alcohol. Check out our article regarding cancer risks and acetaldehyde for more details.
Of course, the occasional alcoholic beverage shouldn’t be an issue, even for those with alcohol intolerance. The real health risks come after prolonged and continued exposure to acetaldehyde and excessive alcohol consumption. However, it’s important to understand that you’ll be exposing yourself to toxic acetaldehyde when you drink alcohol.
Long term exposure to this chemical can cause health risks.
As always, it’s also important to drink in moderation and avoid binge drinking, which could make the health risks even more likely.
Feeling heat from metabolising alcohol
You may begin to feel hot when drinking alcohol because of your liver. While you’re drinking, your liver is working hard to breakdown all the alcohol that is entering your system. While it’s trying to do this, the liver itself can give off heat. The heat can increase depending on how quickly you're drinking and how much. If you only have one drink in an hour, your body can break down that alcohol amount easily enough. If you're having multiple drinks an hour, your liver will need to put in some serious effort to metabolise the alcohol, giving off more and more heat.
On top of that, the overall process of metabolising alcohol and shifts in blood supply can give off more heat and cause additional flushing.
Other organs that can give off heat tend to be the brain and heart.
Sweating from alcohol
Another common side effect from drinking alcohol is sweating. This is your body’s way of lower your temperature through sweat. There are a few reasons why you might get sweaty when drinking alcohol, and many of these reasons are interdependent.
Your body can typically metabolise about one serving of alcohol each hour. If you drink more than that, your body will struggle to get rid of these toxins fast enough, including acetaldehyde.
Alcohol and its byproducts cause the body’s blood vessels to dilate (which can increase the amount of flushing the person experiences as well). Dilated blood vessels means that warm blood is moving closer to the surface of your skin, making the heat noticeable. Because your blood vessels have dilated, your body may begin to sweat since your temperature has changed.
- Alcohol makes your blood vessels dilate
- Warm blood flows closer to the surface of your skin
- This makes you feel hot and start flushing
- Your body begins to sweat because your temperature has changed
It’s also useful to note that while you may begin feeling warm when drinking alcohol, this is actually deceiving. Alcohol will lower your core body temperature. In addition, sweating caused by alcohol lowers your body temperature even further.
So while you might feel hot and sweaty the next time you have a few beers, you body temperature is actually much lower than normal.
What can I do to stop getting hot when I drink?
Unfortunately, there aren't too much options to stop getting hot when you drink alcohol. A lot of it has to do with the process of breaking down alcohol, which we can't change.
If you want to minimise how hot you get when drinking, try drinking alcohol slower. This will give your body a chance to metabolise it without overloading your liver. As your liver works harder, the more heat it will give off, and the hotter you'll feel.
If you get hot because of alcohol flushing, you have an ineffective liver enzyme to blame. Supplements like Sunset Alcohol Flush support can help support your liver when drinking alcohol, and helps breakdown acetaldehyde much quicker. This means you can enjoy alcohol again without the worry of red facial flushing or hot skin.
Another option would be to have alcoholic drinks with lower alcohol content, which means your liver has less work to do since you'll have less alcohol in your system. That way you can still enjoy some drinks, but also give your liver a bit of a rest.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure to drink in moderation and be mindful of the signs your body shows you.