Sudden and often intense warmth in the face or upper body, followed by sweating, dizziness or diarrhea, characterize the occurrence of hot flashes, which are usually related to some form of hormonal change. Hormonal changes may transpire naturally as part of the aging process or proceed due to treatment for certain conditions such as cancer. Medication side effects can also induce symptoms of hot flashes and diarrhea. MayoClinic.com explains that the area of the brain responsible for temperature regulation, known as the hypothalamus, is likely disrupted for any of these reasons, further causing the uncomfortable symptoms 1. Harvard Health Publications notes that men and women may experience symptoms of hot flashes and diarrhea for a variety of reasons 2.
Women commonly experience hormone changes during the menstrual cycle and more prominently at the onset of menopause. Declining estrogen, the primary hormone in women responsible for sexual reproduction, impacts the regulation of temperature controlled by the hypothalamus. MayoClinic.com indicates that the severity of heat experienced during hot flashes depends on the individual and most women are prone to this symptom due to the hormone changes from menopause 1. In men, the possible cause for hormone-influenced hot flashes is testosterone reduction. Harvard Health Publications explains that men do not normally lose testosterone as they age, however, those receiving prostate cancer therapy may experience a drop in testosterone 2. In this case, the hypothalamus is again impacted by the hormone changes, thus causing temperature fluctuations that induce hot flashes.
- Women commonly experience hormone changes during the menstrual cycle and more prominently at the onset of menopause.
- In this case, the hypothalamus is again impacted by the hormone changes, thus causing temperature fluctuations that induce hot flashes.
Diarrhea & Electrolyte Imbalance
Medical conditions such as cancer and tumors may cause symptoms of diarrhea and hot flashes. The University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center notes that hot flashes occur from certain cancers because of abnormal increases in body temperature responding to microorganisms that cause infection. The change in temperature also causes fever, dizziness and diarrhea. Cancerous tumors, referred to as carcinoid syndrome, may also cause hot flashes, diarrhea and skin lesions 4. Carcinoid syndrome is caused by a tumor that secretes serotonin into the bloodstream and impacts the digestive system, colon and lungs 4.
- Medical conditions such as cancer and tumors may cause symptoms of diarrhea and hot flashes.
Treatments and Medications
Chemotherapy, radiation and prescription medications may result in side effects that cause temperature fluctuations and diarrhea. Cells that line the digestive tract are often damaged during chemotherapy. The damage disrupts the fluid balance important for proper digestion and excretion from the body. The University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center explains that chemotherapy and radiation may also induce hormone changes or cause ovary damage in women, further leading to these symptoms. Medications with possible side effects that induce hot flashes and diarrhea include antidepressants and certain steroids.
- Chemotherapy, radiation and prescription medications may result in side effects that cause temperature fluctuations and diarrhea.
- Cells that line the digestive tract are often damaged during chemotherapy.
Diarrhea & Electrolyte Imbalance
What Are the Causes of Belching & Diarrhea?
Causes of Fatigue and Low Fever
HIV & Stomach Symptoms
Diarrhea With Atkins Diet
Why Some Diseases Cause Your Hair Color to Change
Side Effects of Estrogen on Men
Sign & Symptoms of a Colon Mass
How Does Adipex Affect a Woman's Libido?
What Is Low TSH?
- MayoClinic.com: Hot Flashes
- BreastCancer.org: All About Hot Flashes
- MayoClinic.com: Carcinoid Syndrome
- Lugo T, Tetrokalashvili M. Hot Flashes. [Updated 2019 Apr 5]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539827/
- Lugo T, Tetrokalashvili M. Hot Flashes. [Updated 2019 Apr 5]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.
- Bansal R, Aggarwal N. Menopausal Hot Flashes: A Concise Review. J Midlife Health. 2019;10(1):6–13. doi:10.4103/jmh.JMH_7_19
- Morrow PK, Mattair DN, Hortobagyi GN. Hot flashes: a review of pathophysiology and treatment modalities. Oncologist. 2011;16(11):1658–1664. doi:10.1634/theoncologist.2011-0174
- Nair PA. Dermatosis associated with menopause. J Midlife Health. 2014;5(4):168–175. doi:10.4103/0976-7800.145152
- Dalal PK, Agarwal M. Postmenopausal syndrome. Indian J Psychiatry. 2015;57(Suppl 2):S222–S232. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.161483
- Cochran CJ, Gallicchio L, Miller SR, Zacur H, Flaws JA. Cigarette smoking, androgen levels, and hot flushes in midlife women. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;112(5):1037–1044. doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e318189a8e2
- Freedman RR. Menopausal hot flashes: mechanisms, endocrinology, treatment. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2014;142:115–120. doi:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2013.08.010
- Ziv-Gal A, Flaws JA. Factors that may influence the experience of hot flushes by healthy middle-aged women. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2010;19(10):1905–1914. doi:10.1089/jwh.2009.1852
- Low DA, Hubing KA, Del Coso J, Crandall CG. Mechanisms of cutaneous vasodilation during the postmenopausal hot flash. Menopause. 2011;18(4):359–365. doi:10.1097/gme.0b013e3181f7a17a
- Mallhi TH, Khan YH, Khan AH, Mahmood Q, Khalid SH, Saleem M. Managing Hot Flushes in Menopausal Women: A Review. J Coll Physicians Surg Pak. 2018;28(6):460-465.
- Schilling C, Gallicchio L, Miller SR, Langenberg P, Zacur H, Flaws JA. Current alcohol use, hormone levels, and hot flashes in midlife women. Fertil Steril. 2007;87(6):1483–1486. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2006.11.033
- Carpenter JS, Wu J, Burns DS, Yu M. Perceived control and hot flashes in treatment-seeking breast cancer survivors and menopausal women. Cancer Nurs. 2012;35(3):195–202. doi:10.1097/NCC.0b013e31822e78eb
- Sood R, Sood A, Wolf SL, et al. Paced breathing compared with usual breathing for hot flashes. Menopause. 2013;20(2):179-84.
- Thurston RC, Christie IC, Matthews KA. Hot flashes and cardiac vagal control during women's daily lives. Menopause. 2012;19(4):406–412. doi:10.1097/gme.0b013e3182337166
- Innes KE, Selfe TK, Vishnu A. Mind-body therapies for menopausal symptoms: a systematic review. Maturitas. 2010;66(2):135–149. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2010.01.016
- Freedman RR. Physiology of hot flashes. Am J Hum Biol. 2001;13(4):453-64.
- Kronenberg F, Downey JA. Thermoregulatory physiology of menopausal hot flashes: a review. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 1987;65(6):1312-24.
- Sturdee DW. The menopausal hot flush--anything new?. Maturitas. 2008;60(1):42-9.
- Williams-frame A, Carpenter JS. Costs of hormonal and nonhormonal prescription medications for hot flashes. Womens Health (Lond). 2009;5(5):497-502.
- Wiśniewska I, Jochymek B, Lenart-Lipińska M, Chabowski M. The pharmacological and hormonal therapy of hot flushes in breast cancer survivors. Breast Cancer. 2016;23(2):178–182. doi:10.1007/s12282-015-0655-2
- Bonanni E, Schirru A, Di perri MC, Bonuccelli U, Maestri M. Insomnia and hot flashes. Maturitas. 2019;126:51-54.
- Elavsky S, Molenaar PC, Gold CH, Williams NI, Aronson KR. Daily physical activity and menopausal hot flashes: applying a novel within-person approach to demonstrate individual differences. Maturitas. 2012;71(3):287–293. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2011.12.011
- Kargozar R, Azizi H, Salari R. A review of effective herbal medicines in controlling menopausal symptoms. Electron Physician. 2017;9(11):5826–5833. Published 2017 Nov 25. doi:10.19082/5826
- Pruthi S, Qin R, Terstreip SA, et al. A phase III, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of flaxseed for the treatment of hot flashes: North Central Cancer Treatment Group N08C7. Menopause. 2012;19(1):48–53. doi:10.1097/gme.0b013e318223b021
- Johnson A, Roberts L, Elkins G. Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Menopause. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2019;24:2515690X19829380. doi:10.1177/2515690X19829380
- Ee C, French SD, Xue CC, Pirotta M, Teede H. Acupuncture for menopausal hot flashes: clinical evidence update and its relevance to decision making. Menopause. 2017;24(8):980-987.
- Bansal R, Aggarwal N.Menopausal Hot Flashes: A Concise Review.J Midlife Health. 2019 Jan-Mar;10(1):6-13. doi: 10.4103/jmh.JMH_7_19.
- Ee C1, French SD, Xue CC, Pirotta M, Teede H.Acupuncture for menopausal hot flashes: clinical evidence update and its relevance to decision making.Menopause. 2017 Aug;24(8):980-987. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000850.
Aubri John has been a contributing researcher and writer to online physical and mental health oriented journals since 2005. John publishes online health and fitness articles that coincide with her licensed clinical skills in addictions, psychology and medical care. She has a master's degree in clinical social work and a Ph.D. in health psychology.