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Women Wellness

What Causes Hot Flushes Apart from Menopause

What Causes Hot Flushes Apart from Menopause? 10 Hidden Causes

Written and Reviewed by Dr. Uzma Qureshi
Published on: 09/06/2024
What Causes Hot Flushes Apart from Menopause

Do you ever feel like you’re burning up, sweating profusely, and totally out of control all at once? Know that menopausal women are not the only ones experiencing hot flushes. Here a question lingers: “What causes hot flushes apart from menopause?” 

Living with these fiery episodes is not an easy task, as they may disturb your daily activities. Even if you have not reached menopause yet but are still going through such heated moments, there may be an underlying issue causing these. And finding the cause is crucial for timely management. This blog will walk you through what a hot flush feels like and what causes hot flushes apart from menopause. Additionally, you will receive practical advice on how to effectively manage hot flushes at home. Let’s uncover the hidden causes.

How do you know if it was a hot flush?

Hot flush, as the name defines it, is an episode full of heat spreading around your body. However, it extends beyond these symptoms.

During a hot flush, you might notice:

  • A sudden feeling of heat spreads around your face, neck, chest, and shoulders.
  • Red and blotchy skin
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Sweating (upper body)
  • Anxiety
  • Chills after the episode ends

Hot flushes can vary in duration and intensity from person to person. Such episodes may last for one to five minutes.

What Causes Hot Flushes Apart from Menopause? 

We’ve heard a lot about menopausal women getting hot flushes during the day as well as when they’re sleeping. Such information may lead you to believe that hot flashes are exclusively associated with menopause. However, this is untrue; various medical conditions, medications, and other factors can also trigger hot flushes.

Here are the 10 causes of Non Menopausal Hot Flushes:

1. Overactive thyroid gland

The thyroid gland is located in the front of your neck. It releases hormones called T3 and T4. These hormones play an important role in regulating your body’s metabolism—the process that turns your food into energy. 

Your metabolism suffers when your thyroid gland malfunctions, whether it’s hyperactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism). Research says that when your thyroid gland is producing hormones more than normal, it speeds up your metabolism and makes you feel heated. This may trigger hot flushes.

2. Less production of sex hormones

This condition is called hypogonadism. When your body does not produce enough sex hormones (oestrogen in females and testosterone in males), it disrupts various functions. Temperature regulations and metabolism get compromised. Decreased oestrogen levels can lead to hot flushes, similar to those experienced during menopause. In men with hypogonadism, low testosterone levels may also cause hot flushes, although they are less common than in women. 

3. Hormone-producing tumours

What causes non-menopausal hot flushes? It could be carcinoid tumours—slow-growing hormone-producing tumours. These tumours release chemicals, such as large amounts of serotonin, into your blood. Excessive serotonin disrupts your temperature regulation system, causing a sudden and intense flushing and heat.

According to the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation, a carcinoid flush refers to a sudden sensation of heat in the face, often causing it to turn red. These flushes are different from those occurring during menopause because they do not cause sweating. 

4. Cancer 

According to the National Cancer Institute, hot flushes and night sweats (hot flushes during the night) are common in cancer patients and survivors. 

Cancer itself can directly cause hot flushes through various mechanisms, depending on the type and location of the cancer. For example, certain cancers can affect hormone levels in the body, leading to hormonal imbalances that disrupt the body’s temperature regulation system.

5. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can cause hot flushes because it affects your body’s hormonal levels. According to the National Cancer Institute, chemotherapy drugs may trigger hot flushes by disrupting hormone levels. This disruption negatively affects the temperature regulation system and ultimately causes heated-up episodes. 

Additionally, chemotherapy may induce menopause in women before they have even reached their menopause age. This early menopause and decline in oestrogen in females cause hot flashes. So, chemotherapy is another reason that is on the list of “What causes non menopausal hot flushes?”

6. High Doses of Steroids

Steroids, such as corticosteroids or anabolic steroids, can cause hot flushes because of their effects on the body’s hormone levels and temperature regulation system. In a 2020 study, 6.9% of 500 patients experienced hot flushes due to short-term use of high-dose steroids.

Whether they are corticosteroids or anabolic steroids, these medications can lead to hormonal imbalances that trigger sudden and intense feelings of heat and flushing. Additionally, steroids can increase blood flow to the skin, contributing further to the sensation of warmth. 

7. Rosacea

Rosacea

According to the British Journal of Hospital Medicine, rosacea is a skin condition that primarily affects the face and is characterised by redness and/or bumps. One of the common triggers for rosacea flare-ups is heat. Hot weather, hot drinks, spicy foods, or even emotional stress can dilate blood vessels in the skin, causing flushing and increased redness in someone with rosacea. This flushing sensation can feel like a hot flush or a sudden wave of heat spreading across the face. 

We advise individuals with this condition to avoid triggers such as spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol stress, and medications that cause vasodilation.

8. Infections

When you have an infection, your body’s immune system activates to combat the germs, causing you to feel hot and flushed. When you have an infection like a urinary tract infection (UTI), tuberculosis, HIV, heart inflammation (endocarditis), bone infection (osteomyelitis), or abscess, your body’s temperature can go up as it tries to kill the germs. This temperature rise can lead to feelings of heat and flushing. So, when you’re fighting an infection, it’s common to experience hot flushes as your body’s way of trying to get rid of the invaders.

9. Certain medications

Medications like opioids, steroids, calcium channel blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, and certain cancer treatments can disrupt hormonal balance, leading to fluctuations that trigger sudden and intense feelings of heat and flushing. Additionally, some of these medications may increase blood flow to the skin, contributing further to the sensation of warmth.

10. Emotional changes

Emotional changes, like stress, anxiety, or embarrassment, can cause hot flushes because they activate the body’s “fight or flight” response. When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, your body releases adrenaline, which can trigger changes in your blood vessels and make you feel hot. This can lead to flushing and sweating, similar to what happens during physical exertion. 

Although hot flushes can be upsetting and disturbing, if they significantly impact your quality of life, we advise seeking additional assessment and treatment from a healthcare professional.

What are the Complications of Hot Flushes?

Hot flushes, often known as night sweats, can affect your quality of life and everyday activities by waking you up and impairing your sleep for an extended period of time.

Studies indicate that women who experience hot flushes can be more susceptible to heart disease and experience more bone loss than those who do not.

How are Hot Flushes Treated?

Treating hot flushes doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution, but there are ways to manage them. Here’s how they are managed.:

 Medications

Your doctor may prescribe medications to help ease hot flushes. These can include:

  • Veozah (fezolinetant)
  • Brisdelle (paroxetine)
  • Antidepressants like Effexor XR (venlafaxine), Paxil (paroxetine), Celexa (citalopram), and Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Neurontin (gabapentin)

For severe hot flushes, a stellate ganglion block, which involves injecting an anaesthetic into nerves in your neck, might be an option.

Lifestyle Changes

Making some adjustments to your daily routine can also help. 

  • Wear lighter, more breathable clothing.
  • Use a fan or air conditioner when it’s warm.
  • Drink around eight 8-ounce cups of water per day (or more when overheated) to stay well hydrated.
  • Mind-body therapies such as deep breathing or meditation can help reduce stress levels.
  • Try herbal teas or supplements containing sage, black cohosh, or fennels.
  • Avoid alcohol, spicy foods, and excess caffeine.
  • Quit smoking

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

For some people, HRT can be effective in regulating hormone levels and reducing the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. HRT for menopause involves supplementing your body with the hormones that are not produced enough inside you. 

Remember, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before making any changes or trying new treatments to find the best option for you.

When Should I See a Healthcare Provider for Hot Flushes?

You should talk to your doctor when you notice your hot flushes

  • Becoming more frequent or getting worse.
  • Showing an allergic reaction.
  • Interfering with your everyday life.

FAQs About Non Menopausal Hot Flashes:

  1. What are the causes of non-menopausal hot flashes?

Apart from menopause, hot flashes occur due to cancer, hyperactive thyroid gland, hormonal imbalance,  infections, high doses of steroids, or chemotherapy.

  1. How do I treat hot flushes naturally?

Avoid staying in hot weather and wearing warm clothes. Dress up in layers, maintain a healthy diet, hydrate, stay physically active, and try herbs like sage and black cohosh. Read more about the hot flashes natural remedies.

  1. What worsens hot flushes?

Consuming caffeine, alcohol, or spicy food may trigger hot flashes. Moreover, wearing warm clothes and staying in hot temperatures may also worsen your episode.

  1. What vitamin will help my hot flushes?

Vitamin E is recommended to manage and prevent your hot flashes

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