Typically, when we think of hot flashes, we think of older women going through menopause. Think about it: How many times when you’re sweaty have you joked, “Ha, this must be what menopause feels like?”
Something most people don’t know is that there are actually so many other things besides menopause that can cause hot flashes.
First of all, what is a hot flash for real?
You might suddenly feel warmth spreading throughout your face, your heart might suddenly beat through your chest, and your skin can become flushed. Once it’s gone, you might find yourself pretty sweaty (yet simultaneously chilly) and even have to change your shirt.
While they are most common in women going through menopause, they can happen to anyone, anywhere, and can occur at any time of the day, during any type of activity, Nope, it doesn’t discriminate.
Here are a few reasons you might be experiencing a hot flash, other than menopause:
You have a lot of anxiety.
Whether you have an anxiety disorder or you’re just an overly anxious person, people with anxiety tend to get more hot flashes than those without it. Things like a racing heart and feeling physically stressed – symptoms of anxiety – can set off a hot flash. Your doctor or a cognitive behavioral therapist might be able to help if you can’t keep your anxiety at bay, and thus, the hot flashes.
You sleep in a hot room.
Snuggled under the blankets. With a sweatshirt on. If you live where it’s cold, this probably feels great when you first get into bed and shut your eyes. But if you wake up in the middle of the night dripping in sweat, that’s probably why. Our body temperature naturally fluctuates as you sleep, so try lowering your thermostat or removing a layer of clothing or blankets if hot flashes are a concern.
You’re taking a prescription med.
There are some prescriptions drugs that cause hot flashes as a side effect, most commonly opioids, antidepressants, and some osteoporosis medications. If they’re particularly bothersome, see if your healthcare provider can put you on something different.
You have a food intolerance.
The most common hot-flash foods include alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, and certain additives such as sulfites. Some people are more sensitive to foods than others, so if you think it could be something you’re eating that’s triggering the hot flashes, try keeping a food diary. Write down everything you eat and see if you’re body is reacting to something in particular. And then if it is, cut that food out and see if they go away.
Those with a high body mass index (BMI) are more likely to get hot flashes. The good news: One study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that women who were overweight and obese could reduce how severe their hot flashes were through following a proper diet and exercise routine. So if this applies to you, it could be a good idea to see a nutritionist or trainer to help you determine the right plan for you.
You smoke cigarettes.
A study published in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that cigarette-smoking contributed to women (who were not postmenopausal) having hot flashes. The reason might relate to the smokers having much higher androstenedione levels, as well as a higher androgen-to-estrogen ratio than the nonsmokers.
You have an overactive thyroid.
Really any condition that affects your hormones or endocrine system may cause hot flashes, but an overactive thyroid is one of the most common. Other side effects of an overactive thyroid include racing heart, weight loss without trying, extreme fatigue, and frequent urination.
Hot flashes aren’t fun for anyone. If you’re having them on a consistent basis, be sure to see your doctor.
Have you ever experienced a hot flash? Share your best remedy for getting rid of them!