Menopause is the most common cause of hot flashes. Menopause occurs when your ovaries stop releasing eggs and the levels of estrogen and progesterone are lower. As a result, these hormone changes can affect your body's ability to regulate temperature.
Tip: If you feel like your symptoms are severe, your doctor might suggest hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This type of medication includes estrogen that helps manage hormone levels and relieve menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats. However, be aware that there are risks to undergoing HRT. According to the American Cancer Society, studies have associated HRT with a higher risk of breast cancer.
2. Breast cancer treatment
Hot flashes and night sweats may also be a side effect of breast cancer treatment. Radiation and chemotherapy can cause premature menopause in young women, and older women can go into menopause because of chemo.
Tip: To help manage your symptoms limit your consumption of spicy foods and hot drinks and avoid hot showers, saunas, and triggers like stress and alcohol. A great remedy will be to take a cool shower before going to bed and lower the temperature in your bedroom. Sleep in cool sheets and comforters which are made with natural materials, such as cotton, linen, and silk.
Hot flashes could be a side effect of many common prescription drugs, primarily opioids, antidepressants, and some osteoporosis drugs. Some steroids are used to treat swelling which can also trigger hot flashes. Men who have had surgery to remove one or both of their testicles can also experience hot flashes.
Tip: Keep an eye out for symptoms soon after taking a new course of medication. If that is the cause, let your health care provider know what's up so that they may switch you to a similar drug that doesn't leave you feeling hot.
4. Excess weight
Body fat is metabolically active, which helps explain the links between obesity and some cancers. Because excess weight can mess with your metabolism, it can also promote hot flashes. While it may sound like a predictable remedy, diet and exercise can bring relief, especially if you are overweight or obese.
Tip: In a 2010 study from the University of California, it was found, that obese women who ate healthily and exercised 200 minutes per week were twice as likely to report fewer hot flashes.
We all experience a hot flash when we eat very spicy food. But, if you have an unidentified food allergy or intolerance, something else in your diet could be the cause. Alcohol, caffeine, and additives like sulfites are common triggers.
Tip: Pay attention to how your body reacts the next time you ingest any of them, and you may notice a correlation. If that doesn't help, speak to a doctor, or a registered dietitian and look into a structured elimination diet.
Stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably. However, anxiety refers to the physical side of emotions like stress, fear, or worry. A racing heart and nervous fidgeting are two of the classic anxiety symptoms. Feeling anxious can also cause uncomfortable symptoms.
Tip: Should anxiety be the cause of your hot flashes, remind yourself to breathe - a simple exercise can help calm anxiety. Exercise, meditation, and yoga are also effective anxiety busters.
Your body temperature naturally fluctuates throughout the night, so it is common for women and men to wake up in the middle of the night feeling hot or sweaty.
Tip: Turning down your thermostat or sleeping with fewer blankets or clothes may be enough. You can also try cooling sheets and lightweight comforters to prevent night sweats.