Hot flashes are a sudden feeling of warmth in the upper body, usually intensely felt in the face, neck and chest. You may feel like your skin is flushing and you may sweat excessively. Also, if you lose too much body heat from hot flashes, you may feel cold afterwards. You can find more information below.
What is hot flashes?
Hot flashes are sudden sensations of warmth that may occur in the whole body or in one part of the body. Hot flashes can feel like heat waves traveling through the body. Other symptoms of hot flashes include flushing and sweating. Hot flashes can be mild or intense, occurring at any time of the day, followed by chills.
Hot flashes are usually caused by the premenopausal period or menopause in women as a result of age-related changes in hormone levels. Surgical removal of the ovaries and some treatments for endometriosis can also cause hot flashes. Polycystic ovary syndrome , loss of appetite and even hormonal imbalances caused by pregnancy can also cause hot flashes. Hot flashes include treatments for certain types of cancer .
While hot flashes are not usually serious, they can disrupt sleep at night due to sweating. This condition can also affect the psychology of the affected person. When hot flashes become problematic, hormone therapy, antidepressants, or anticonvulsant medications can reduce symptoms. The duration, frequency and severity of hot flashes, especially due to menopause, will decrease over time.
Home treatment for hot flashes usually consists of comfort measures. You may find that wearing loose clothing and maintaining a comfortable room temperature can help. Learning and practicing relaxation techniques will also help you minimize the discomfort of hot flashes.
It is important to see a doctor if you or someone you are with has hot flashes along with other serious symptoms, including excessive sweating or a high fever, as these can indicate different health problems. Even if your hot flashes do not go away, are disturbing your sleep, or are worrying you, it is recommended that you see a doctor.
What other symptoms can occur with hot flashes?
Hot flashes may be accompanied by other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease or condition.
Menopausal symptoms that may occur with hot flashes
Hot flashes may be accompanied by other symptoms that affect the endocrine system, such as the menopausal transition in women and midlife hormonal changes in men, such as:
- mood, personality, or behavior changes
- Changes in self-image
- Changes in thinking patterns
- Sleeping disorder
- sweating excessively
Other symptoms that may occur along with hot flashes
Hot flashes may accompany symptoms related to other body systems or side effects of a medication, including:
- dry mouth
- High fever
- body flushing
- Sleeping disorder
Symptoms that may indicate a serious condition
In some cases, hot flashes may occur with other symptoms that may indicate a serious condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting.
It is important to seek medical attention if you or someone you are with has hot flashes with serious symptoms, including:
- difficulty concentrating
- Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
- High fever
What can cause hot flashes?
Hot flashes are caused by changes in the body’s estrogen and testosterone levels. Changes in hormone levels can be caused by normal processes in the body, such as menopause. Changes in hormone levels can also occur as a result of cancer or cancer treatments, particularly ovarian, testicular, prostate, and breast cancer.
Cancer-related causes of hot flashes
Hot flashes can be caused by ovarian, testicular, prostate, or breast cancer and their treatment, such as:
- hormone therapy
- Oopherectomy (surgical removal of the ovaries)
- Orchiectomy (surgical removal of the testicles)
- radiation therapy
- Side effects of medications such as certain steroids or antidepressants
Age-related causes of hot flashes
Hot flashes can also be caused by normal aging processes, including:
- Changes in the function of the hypothalamus
- Changes in thyroid hormone levels
Serious causes of hot flashes
In some cases, hot flashes can be a symptom of a serious condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting, such as:
- Ovarian or testicular cancer
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland)
- Pituitary adenoma
When should I see a doctor for hot flashes?
Hot flashes are not usually a medical emergency. However, they can be very annoying and affect your quality of life. If hot flashes are affecting your sleep or daily activities, it may be a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor.
Women younger than 45 should see their doctor if they begin to experience hot flashes. This may be a sign of an early or normal menopause. You should also keep in mind that going through menopause at a very young age carries health risks that may require hormonal therapy.
Which doctor to go to for hot flashes?
The first doctor you should be examined for hot flashes should be your family doctor. If your family doctor can’t do anything about it or if he/she suspects other conditions, he/she may refer you to a different specialty (such as dermatology or internal medicine).
How is hot flash diagnosed?
Your doctor will likely be able to diagnose the cause of your hot flashes based on your description of the problem. This may raise the question of whether you are in menopause. To confirm that you are going through this normal process, your doctor may order blood tests to check your hormone levels.
Your doctor may also ask you a few questions about your hot flashes, including:
- Are you still menstruating? When was the last time you had your period?
- How long have you had hot flashes?
- Do hot flashes bother you?
- Are hot flashes interrupting your sleep?
- If there is one thing that makes your hot flashes better or worse, what is it?
- Are you experiencing other menopausal symptoms?
- Do other members of your family have similar problems?
- Are you currently being treated for any type of cancer?
- What medications are you taking?
It is not always possible to diagnose an underlying cause or condition. If the problem persists and your doctor can’t identify a cause, getting a second opinion may give you more information and answers.
How are hot flashes treated?
In general, doctors recommend making lifestyle changes before trying medications for hot flashes. However, if hot flashes continue to be bothersome, several treatment options are available.
hormone replacement therapy to treat hot flashes
Hormone replacement therapy is very effective for relieving hot flashes. The goal of hormone therapy is to normalize hormone levels to improve menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes. Hormone therapy is typically a combination of estrogen and progesterone. If a woman no longer has a uterus, this treatment may consist of estrogen only. However, hormone therapy is not suitable for every woman, and some women should not receive it because of the risks of the treatment.
Medicines to treat hot flashes
If hormone therapy isn’t an option, or if a woman doesn’t want to take hormones, there are other options. Paroxetine is the only non-hormonal treatment for hot flashes by the FDA . This treatment is a low-dose formulation of an antidepressant.
However, several other antidepressants and other medications may also be effective for treating hot flashes, such as the following.
- Citalopram (type of antidepressant)
- clonidine (a blood pressure medicine that may help some women with hot flashes)
- Escitalopram (type of antidepressant)
- Gabapentin (nöbetönleyiciilaç)
- Oxybutynin (medicine for overactive bladder, which may relieve some hot flashes)
- Pregabalin (anti-seizure medicine)
- Venlafaxine (type of antidepressant)
Complementary treatments for hot flashes
Some complementary therapies can help some people better cope with the symptoms of hot flashes. These treatments, also called alternative treatments, are used in conjunction with traditional medical treatments.
Complementary therapies are not a substitute for traditional medical care. If you are taking nutritional supplements or homeopathic remedies, you should remember to consult your doctor as they may interact with the prescribed medical treatment.
Complementary therapies with some evidence to support their use in relieving hot flashes include:
- Acupuncture with mixed results in studies
- Cognitive behavioral therapy to help you learn to control the discomfort of hot flashes
- Mindfulness and mind-body techniques such as meditation, hypnosis, and deep breathing that can heal the negative impact of hot flashes
Various supplements and herbal products are also popular for managing hot flashes. This includes plant estrogens, soy, black cohosh and vitamin E. Scientific study results for these and other supplements are unclear. Also, some women should not take any products that may have an estrogen-like effect. You should always consult your doctor before trying alternative treatments for hot flashes. Because such treatments and supplements can have harmful side effects and drug interactions.
What are the potential complications of hot flashes?
While hot flashes don’t usually cause serious complications, they can interrupt sleep, cause embarrassment, or interfere with daily life. Although rare, it can cause serious problems. Because hot flashes can sometimes be caused by serious diseases such as ovarian or testicular cancer, leaving it untreated can lead to serious complications and permanent damage.
Once the underlying cause of hot flashes has been diagnosed, it’s important to follow the treatment plan your doctor has designed specifically for you to reduce the risk of possible complications, including:
- anxiety and depression
- distress and inconvenience
- insomnia disease
- Social Isolation
- spread of cancer