8 Surprising Causes of Hot Flashes and How to Find Relief

8 Surprising Causes of Hot Flashes

“Is it hot in here or is it just me?”

If you find yourself saying this on a regular basis, then you may be suffering from hot flashes. The causes of hot flashes vary, but they are common in both men and women.

They are especially common for women during menopause and perimenopause. In fact, 80% of women going through menopause will experience hot flashes.

Hot flashes are characterized by an increase in bodily temperature leading to flushing of the skin near the neck, chest, and face. Other symptoms of hot flashes include tingling, skin reddening, rapid heartbeat, and chills once the hot flash has passed.

Hot flashes are not only uncomfortable, but they can also affect your overall well-being. Especially, if you experience night sweats which can wake you up at all hours of the night. This can lead to insomnia and other medical conditions related to sleep deprivation.

So, if you’re a woman or a man experiencing hot flashes, and want to understand why then read on to find out 8 common causes.

1. Food & Substance Sensitivities

Food and substance sensitivities have the ability to cause hot flashes in certain individuals. Eating spicy foods, for example, can cause hot flashes in many people. Food additives such as MSG have also been known to produce hot flash symptoms. Hot drinks may also trigger a hot flash.

If you’re having hot flashes on a regular basis and have ruled out other causes, then make note of when, where, and what was going on when the hot flash occurred. This is especially important if it’s related to a food or substance allergy or intolerance.

By learning the causes and avoiding those foods in the future, you can reduce and eliminate hot flashes altogether. Having a log will also be helpful when speaking to your doctor about your symptoms in case further testing is needed.

Nonfood substances can also cause hot flashes. Alcohol and caffeine are two common substances known to produce hot flash symptoms. Speak to your doctor about reducing or eliminating these substances.

You can also ask to be referred to a registered dietitian or nutrition specialist to discuss dietary changes. Undergoing an elimination diet might also be helpful when discovering the cause of your hot flashes.

2. Room Temperature

If the room temperature is too high for your body, then a hot flash may result. To reduce hot flashes caused by room temperature try wearing less clothing, lowering the thermostat, or purchasing a fan.

If the room temperature is especially bothersome at night then invest in breathable bedding and pajamas. You can also purchase pillows that have cooling properties as well.

Combatting night sweats can be difficult, but it is extremely important to try to manage your hot flash symptoms at this time. Lack of sleep can damage your health and lead to an increased risk of anxiety, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to ensure your body gets enough rest.

3. Medications

Certain medications may cause hot flashes, but these types of hot flashes usually subside once your body is used to the medication. Medications associated with hot flashes include blood pressure medication, calcium channel blockers, and erectile dysfunction medication.

If you are having hot flashes while using any of these medications, then inform your doctor. Your doctor will be able to monitor your symptoms and may suggest switching medications or altering the dosage.

4. Anxiety

Anxiety is an emotional state characterized by fearful or worrisome thoughts, bodily tension, and bodily changes such as increased blood pressure, sweating, and tingling. These symptoms are similar to symptoms associated with hot flashes.

Anxiety as an emotional state is also referred to as “the flight or fight” response. Anxiety is a normal and healthy emotion when a situation, like being chased by a bear, demands it for survival.

However, anxiety can turn into an anxiety disorder when the anxiety is disproportionate to a stressor or triggering event. People with an anxiety disorder experience the emotion far after the trigger has passed or experience constant intrusive thoughts. People with an anxiety disorder may also experience nausea, increased blood pressure, and/or insomnia.

Speak with a doctor or a behavioral specialist about your anxiety symptoms and hot flashes. They may suggest medication, lifestyle changes, or talk therapy.

5. Exercise

When we partake in exercise, our body temperatures naturally rise. After a good exercise session, we may feel flush, hot, and sweaty. This is a completely normal reaction to the body burning extra fuel.

When exercising, always bring along a bottle of water. It’s important to rehydrate after you sweat to replenish your mineral and water supply.

If you’re worried about hot flashes during exercise, then speak with your doctor.

6. Weight

Excess weight affects your metabolism which can also trigger hot flashes, especially in women experiencing menopause. A recent study discovered that excess weight acts as insulation for heat which can increase the number of hot flashes.

To reduce hot flashes caused by weight, speak with your doctor about diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes. While losing weight is never easy, having the support of your doctor, a dietitian, and a support group can help.

7. Medical Conditions

The following medical conditions/treatments are associated with hot flashes:

  • Migraines and Headaches
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Neurological disorders (i.e. Epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease)
  • Illnesses causing a fever
  • Breast and Prostate cancer treatments
  • Hormonal changes after giving birth

Speak with your doctor if you have any of these medical conditions to get relief from your hot flash symptoms. You should also speak with your doctor if you have any other medical conditions that you believe may be causing your hot flashes.

8. Menopause

The most commonly known cause of hot flashes is menopause. Menopause is a natural process in which a woman’s period gradually begins to get irregular until it stops completely. It’s associated with changes in hormones which may be part of the cause of hot flashes.

To help relieve your hot flash symptoms during menopause, speak with your doctor. Your doctor may suggest hormone therapy which may reduce or eliminate your hot flash episodes.

Causes of Hot Flashes and Treatments

The causes of hot flashes vary, but to get relief, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Tell your doctor about your symptoms and any triggers that may be causing your hot flashes. Together you and your doctor will discover why you’re experiencing hot flashes and how to effectively treat them.
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