Hot flashes are one of the common symptoms in women approaching menopause or post menopause period. They occur as an intense warmth or hot feeling which is experienced for a short duration. The frequency and intensity of hot flashes can vary from person to person. For some women it can be a mild attack while for others it can be a severe one.
Hot flashes are felt mostly on the upper part of the body such as head, neck, face and lips. It can leave a person with a reddened skin and perspiration.
What causes them?
Hypothalamus is responsible for proper functioning of the body’s vital system such as heart beat, blood circulations and sex hormones. Hot flashes occur when the hypothalamus in the brain, felt a drop in the estrogen hormone level. Hypothalamus is like a body’s thermostat. This drop in estrogen is read as very hot by the hypothalamus. Soon the hypothalamus starts sending signal to various organs of the body. The heart rate increases, blood vessels soon dilates, increasing the blood pressures. This causes blushing, flushing (reddening) and sweating in the neck, head and face.
What are the causes of hot flashes?
Hot flashes are mostly menopausal. But there may be several other reasons responsible for causing hot flashes in women. Any factor which causes a drop in the estrogen level can trigger hold flashes. This can be hormonal imbalances, illness, infections, medicines and drugs. However, in women almost 90% of hot flashes are caused by menopausal symptoms.
Causes of hot flashes other than menopause are as follows-
- TUBERCULOSIS- It is one of the common causes of hot flash. Person suffering from tuberculosis sweats profusely at night due to a rise in the body temperature. The higher body heat can activate the sweat glands to produce more sweats.
- HYPERHIDROSIS- A medical condition known as idiopathic hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating can cause excessive sweating of the body too.
- DISEASES- Certain diseases such as cancers and tumors (lymphoma) can make a person sweat excessively accompanied with fever.
- INFECTIONS- Some viral infections such as HIV infections and also infections of the respiratory tract like tonsils, bronchitis etc can cause hot flashes and night sweats. Other infections include infections of the bones (osteomyelitis), appendix (appendicitis) and inflammation of the tonsils, heart valves etc.
- PERIODS- Hot flashes occurs before and after menstruation cycles. This is because of the changes in the level of estrogen.
- HYPOTHYRODISM- Infection of thyroid and pituitary glands can be one of the causes of hot flashes.
- DISORDERS OF THE HORMONE- Include pheochromomocytoma (adrenal gland tumor), carcinoid tumors, hyperthyroidism (overactive or underactive thyroid glands). These can cause hot flashes too.
- HYPOGLYCEMIA- Person with diabetes can experience hot flashes or excessive night sweating which is due to low sugar level in the blood. This can be because of insulin injections or anti-diabetic medicines.
- MEDICATIONS AND DRUGS- One of the causes of hot flashes can be medications and drugs. Some drugs such as anti-depressants, analgesics (aspirin, paracetamol and acetaminophen) and neurological drugs can cause night sweats in a person. Other medicines include prednisone and cortisone also causes night and day sweats.
Other than the above mentioned factors, eating spicy, hot foods and smoking tobacco and drinking alcohols can also trigger hot flashes and night sweats.
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