What Happens To Your Stomach When Your Face Blushes

You're at the weekly office meeting. Your boss is sitting right across from you and they're going through the tasks at hand for this week and suddenly, they direct a question right at you. You don't know the answer so you stumble through a few sentences. You feel your cheeks turn red and now you're blushing. 

Cats flatten their ears, dogs and other animals lie down, roll over, and expose their bellies, and humans blush, according to associate professor of physics at Santa Clara University, Phil Kesten. "Blushing is part of your body's 'fight-or-fight' mechanism, which is the way your body responds in an emergency," he explained.

Did you know that it's not only your face that turns red when you're doing this distinctly human thing called blushing? Apparently, your stomach blushes too. When blood rushes to your cheeks to give them its rosy hue, it's also rushing to the lining of your stomach, per Associates MD

What exactly happens when you blush?

You may be thinking that being asked a question at a meeting certainly doesn't warrant an emergency, but you can blame your body's adrenaline for that minor misfortune. When you blush, your body releases adrenaline, and this brings your heart rate up and makes your pupils dilate so you can see better during an emergency, shared Phil Kesten (via Santa Clara University). "It also causes the blood vessels deep in your muscles to dilate, in order to get more oxygen and more energy where it's needed most. The veins in your face also dilate. As they open up allowing more blood to flow, your cheeks become warmer and redder. You're blushing," the associate professor added. 

Now you know the scientific reason you blush when you're attracted to someone

Interestingly, when all that blood is rushing to your face, it's also rushing to other parts of your body, including your stomach. This results in the stomach lining appearing red as well, per The Health Board. Te Kura Mātauranga Koiora — School of Biological Sciences professor Anne La Flamme told Victoria University of Wellington that what happens during a blush is similar to what happens when your body is trying to fight an infection. "And for some reason this occurs primarily on the cheeks, so more blood gets there, your cheeks turn red and they get hot because the blood is what is circulating the heat around your body," she explained. Innocent embarrassment or shame-induced blushing aside, there are other reasons why humans blush too.   

Other reasons why our cheeks appear red

Certain skin conditions, like eczema, rosacea, and dermatitis can also mean your cheeks are always red, according to Web MD. But this is mainly due to a red rash that develops on your face (as is the case with eczema and dermatitis) or the blood vessels in your cheeks becoming more visible (as is the case with rosacea). 

All of us probably know of that one person during a night out whose cheeks turn red when they sip some alcohol. This is called an alcohol flush reaction, per the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. People who blush when they drink alcohol can't metabolize the beverage effectively and this can cause other symptoms like hives, an irritated stomach, stuffy nose, headache, and fatigue, per Web MD. Hot flashes brought on by menopause, scarlet fever, lupus, and certain medications can also cause your cheeks to blush. 

Having a high level of the stress hormone cortisol in your body — as is the case with Cushing's disease and Cushing's syndrome — is another reason why your cheeks might appear red (via Medical News Today). But you'd likely experience other symptoms like fatigue, depression, high blood pressure, weight gain, and easy bruising with such conditions. While you don't have to run to the doctor about the way your body reacts when you flirt, the other medical conditions listed here would obviously warrant a trip to their office.