Hot flashes are generally associated with menopause, but they can also be caused by different lifestyle factors or medical conditions, and they are not always a sign of something serious.
A hot flash is a sudden, intense feeling of heat in the upper body that lasts from 30 seconds to several minutes or more. This sensation is often joined by other symptoms such as sweating, flushing, dizziness, and increased heart rate .
While there are other possible causes, hot flashes are extremely common when people are in perimenopause / menopause.
Hot flashes occur when the body's internal thermostat detects that it is too hot. This sets off a chain of events in which your heart beats faster, your sweat glands are activated, and blood vessels near the surface of your skin expand to cool your body.
If you have hot flashes, it may be due to the medicine you are taking. Hot flashes are a side effect of many prescription medications, including:
These medications affect the level of certain chemicals in the body, which in turn affects the regulation of body temperature, hormonal balance, and the sweating mechanism. When your body adjusts to one of these drugs, side effects like hot flashes can go away.
If you have severe hot flashes caused by prescription drugs or if they cause you concern, talk to your doctor before stopping the medicine. Your doctor can recommend alternative treatments and can help you safely cut back or switch to a new medicine.
An overactive thyroid gland ( hyperthyroidism ) is when your body makes too much thyroid hormone. This increase indicates an acceleration in your metabolism , which can cause symptoms such as hot flashes, increased sweating, feeling overheated, weight loss, and night sweats (profuse sweating during sleep).
Some people with hyperthyroidism find hot flashes and other symptoms so devastating that they cannot tolerate activities like strenuous exercise or being in hot weather.
Anxiety disorders can have many different symptoms , including hot flashes, increased heart rate, and increased sweating. For example, during a panic attack, there is often a sudden feeling of heat or flushing.
Researchers speculate that this symptom may be due to the body releasing stress hormones during a so-called "fight or flight" situation, increasing circulation and blood flow to the muscles and causing malaise and fever.
The environment you sleep in can also cause hot flashes or night sweats (sweating during sleep is so intense that bedding or pajamas get damp).
Our body temperature naturally fluctuates at night to conserve energy. When paired with heavy pajamas or a blanket and a warm bedroom, this is a recipe for hot flashes.
If lowering the room temperature and sleeping in lighter bedding or pajamas doesn't help you stay cool, talk to your doctor. Hot flashes may not be caused by a warm bedroom, but by an underlying medical condition.
Carcinoid syndrome and hormone-secreting tumors
Although less common, hot flashes can also be caused by carcinoid syndrome , a condition in people with advanced carcinoid tumors that produce excess hormones that affect the entire body.
A common symptom of carcinoid syndrome is facial flushing. When this happens, the skin on the face, neck, or upper chest suddenly becomes hot and red.
Facial flushing in people with carcinoid syndrome occurs after the release of certain chemicals in the body, causing the blood vessels to dilate (vasodilation) and a sharp increase in blood flow under the skin.
Other tumors such as those of the pancreas, medullary thyroid cancer, bronchogenic carcinoma (lung cancer), and renal cell carcinoma can also cause hot flashes.
Some people get hot flashes from beverages that contain caffeine, such as coffee. Caffeine can slightly increase the heart rate and can interfere with the regulation of the dilation of blood vessels in the body, which means it can trigger hot flashes.
Most people have a normal sensitivity to caffeine and can consume up to 400 mg per day without unwanted side effects.
If you think your caffeine intake is causing hot flashes, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day or consider switching to a beverage (such as tea) with lower levels of caffeine.
Niacin is a B vitamin that is commonly taken as a supplement. Hot flashes or flushes are common side effects of the supplement. The reaction occurs when blood vessels dilate, causing blood to flow to the surface of the skin and a sudden sensation of heat.
If you prefer to continue taking your niacin supplement, talk to your doctor about changing your dose if you have hot flashes. You can also try cutting back on caffeine or using a leave-in form to ease the side effects of the supplement.
Research has also shown that taking aspirin before taking niacin can reduce redness and itching. If you are having trouble with niacin side effects, you can try taking a 325mg dose of aspirin at least 15-30 minutes before taking niacin to see if it helps reduce your symptoms.
Any infection that causes a fever can cause hot flashes. Body temperature can rise when you try to kill a viral or bacterial infection. If an infection is the cause of your hot flashes, you may also experience other symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, and sweating.
There is a wide range of infections that can cause hot flashes, including:
Hot flashes and associated symptoms can also be the result of certain neurological disorders, which are conditions that affect the brain, nerves, and spinal cord. Sometimes these conditions can affect the autonomic nervous system , which helps control body temperature.
For example, some people diagnosed with migraine may experience intense heat and sweating during a migraine attack. Other neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease. multiple sclerosis (MS) and some types of brain tumors It can also cause symptoms such as excessive sweating, feeling overheated, sudden changes in body temperature, flushing or flushing of the skin.
Your diet can also cause hot flashes. Alcohol, beer, and wine contain chemicals that can cause blood vessels to dilate, which can make the skin feel suddenly red and hot. The same goes for foods and ingredients like hot peppers, cayenne pepper, and chili powder, thanks to the active ingredient capsaicin.
Additionally, foods containing nitrites and nitrate compounds found in processed foods, such as hot dogs and deli meats, are known to dilate blood vessels and cause symptoms similar to hot flashes. You've probably also noticed that any hot beverage like coffee or tea can raise your body temperature, which can sometimes lead to hot flashes or flushing.
Hot flashes can be part of the body's normal emotional response to certain situations or conditions. Very often, you may feel a sudden rush of heat or notice flushing or flushing of the skin at a time of extreme anger, excitement, or embarrassment. These emotions trigger the nervous system, causing the blood vessels to dilate, leading to sweating, fever, increased heart rate, and hot flashes.
Skin conditions like rosacea , which are characterized by redness and / or bumps on the face, also often cause flushing due to chronic inflammation of the blood vessels in the face and upper body.
In fact, people with rosacea are advised to avoid triggers such as very hot environments, spicy foods, hot drinks, alcohol, stressful situations, and any medications that can dilate blood vessels and cause additional redness or redness.
Although there is no "cure" for hot flashes, there are several ways to reduce the discomfort they cause and reduce its severity. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause.
- If your hot flashes are caused by a medical condition or by prescription drugs, it's important to talk to your doctor about specific treatment. This is especially true for serious conditions like carcinoid syndrome, severe infections, hyperthyroidism, and anxiety disorders that require medical treatment. In some cases, prescription medications can help relieve hot flashes.
- If your hot flashes are related to a lifestyle factor, consider making a few changes to your daily routine, such as wearing lighter clothing, adjusting the thermostat, and staying hydrated. You should speak with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications, such as cutting back on caffeine, niacin supplements, or over-the-counter fever medications.
How to deal with hot flashes
Hot flashes can be uncomfortable, but there are several lifestyle changes that can help control or prevent them.
- Keep your home cool and avoid areas that are too hot.
- Dress in light, loose fitting, layered clothing.
- Drink cold water to stay hydrated.
- Take a portable fan with you.
- Reduce stress levels with deep breathing techniques or meditation.
- Get regular exercise.
- Avoid alcohol, spicy foods, and excessive caffeine intake.
- If you smoke, make a plan to quit.
When to see a doctor
There are many different causes of hot flashes. While most of them are not serious, you need to know exactly what causes them.
If you're having trouble identifying the cause of your hot flashes, try tracking down the episodes. List the details of the outside and ambient temperature at the time you are taking it, your diet and activity level, and any medications you have taken. After several weeks of collecting data, your doctor can help you find the pattern.
Red flag symptoms
You will need to seek medical attention if you have warning signs along with hot flashes, such as:
- They suddenly become more frequent or worse.
- They occur with symptoms of an allergic reaction .
- They cause you stress and anxiety, or interfere with your daily life.
If you experience other sudden or unexplained symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, diarrhea, prolonged fever, swollen lymph nodes, or unexplained weight loss along with hot flashes, tell your doctor immediately.
Frequently asked questions
What Causes Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes can be caused by menopause, certain prescription medications, infections, certain medical conditions, diet, hot environments, exercise, or a combination of factors.
How to stop hot flashes quickly?
It can be difficult to stop a heat outbreak, but you can try using a portable fan by removing a light layer of clothing, taking deep breaths, and drinking ice water to help regulate body temperature during an attack.
What are hot flashes?
A hot flash is a sudden sensation of heat in the face, neck, chest, and upper body. Depending on the cause, the person may also experience palpitations, increased sweating, dizziness, or redness of the skin.
How long do hot flashes last?
Depends on the person. Hot flashes can be brief, lasting about 30 seconds, but they can also last five or even 10 minutes. Some people may experience them for a longer time.
How are the tides?
Hot flashes are often described as a sudden, unpleasant wave of heat, especially around the face and chest. This sensation can be combined with a rapid heart rate, sweating, and even feelings of stress or anxiety.
What Causes Hot Flashes in Men?
There are several reasons why hot flashes can occur in men, including a prostate cancer treatment known as androgen deprivation therapy; lifestyle reasons such as stress, depression or anxiety; and medical reasons such as low testosterone levels in middle age.
Why are my hot flashes worse?
Several factors can make hot flashes worse, including changes in hormone levels, additional stress and anxiety, diet, infections, illness, and certain medications. Hot weather and warm rooms can also make hot flashes worse.
How many hot flashes a day are normal?
The frequency of hot flashes is different for each person and will depend on its cause. Some people experience them daily, others weekly, monthly, or less frequently. In more severe cases, hot flashes can occur several times a day.
What Causes Night Hot Flashes?
There are many reasons for night hot flashes (night sweats), including fluctuating hormones, hot sleeping environments, infections, or recently consumed foods or medications.
Night hot flashes are less common, but can be a symptom of some cancers, such as lymphoma.
There are also normal fluctuations in body temperature during sleep , which can lead to excessive sweating and a feeling of heat at night.