It’s Hot in Here! A Look at the Causes of Hot Flashes

September 2, 2022 2:51 pm Published by

hot flashes at night

If you are a middle-aged woman, you may expect occasional blasts of intense internal heat—otherwise known as hot flashes—which are considered a common part of going through menopause. But the menopausal transition isn’t the only time when hot flashes can occur. The causes of hot flashes are abundant.

What Is a Hot Flash?

Hot flashes can cause you to feel uncomfortably warm, even if the environment around you is cold. Researchers aren’t quite sure why, but hot flashes are incredibly common among women during the menopausal transition. In fact, up to 75% of women experience hot flashes during perimenopause.

While the exact cause of hot flashes isn’t well understood, fluctuating hormone levels related to menopause are thought to play a part in disrupting the body’s temperature.

What About Night Sweats?

If you have ever woken up very sweaty in the middle of the night, you have experienced what is known as a night sweat. Night sweats often happen when a hot flash occurs at night, leading to sweating even though you’re resting.

Night sweats aren’t always the result of a hot flash. In some cases, the external temperature of the room (or an excess of blankets) can leave you hot during the night, causing you to sweat. But in many cases, particularly during menopause or illness, night sweats are caused by changes within the body, not the temperature around you.

Can Hot Flashes Be a Sign of a Serious Health Issue?

Many women experience hot flashes for months and even years leading up to and following menopause. In most cases, hot flashes and night sweats are simply an annoyance. But if you experience them regularly during menopause and find they disrupt your normal routines, talk with your medical provider.

He or she may recommend making changes to improve your quality of life, which can be as simple as lowering the thermostat or avoiding things that trigger your hot flashes. Your provider may also recommend hormone therapy to manage your menopausal symptoms. Hormone therapy can be prescribed on a temporary basis to limit menopause-related symptoms, such as hot flashes.

While menopause is a common cause of hot flashes, both hot flashes and night sweats can also be associated with other medical conditions, blood sugar swings and certain medications. When your immune system is revved up to fight off a virus like the common cold, you may experience temperature swings that include hot flashes and sweating.

If you aren’t sick or going through menopause but still experience hot flashes, check in with your medical provider. Since many conditions can be most effectively treated during their earliest phases, having your provider investigate unusual symptoms is an important step to protect your health.

Wondering whether your hot flashes could be a sign of something serious? Turn to Magnolia Women’s Center, which offers care for women at all ages and stages of life.

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This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center