Hot flashes, sudden sensations of heat accompanied by facial reddening, sweating and, sometimes, rapid heartbeat, nausea, headache and anxiety, most often occur in menopausal women, but can occur in women -- or men -- as young as age 31. Hot flash symptoms normally start at the head and move down toward the neck and chest, lasting between 30 seconds and five minutes. Hormonal changes that occur during menopause most often cause hot flashes, but medications and certain disease processes can also cause hot flashes. Hot flashes can occur in men, although they occur more commonly in women.
Medications that lower estrogen levels can cause hot flashes in both men and women at age 31. Estrogen blockers, such as tamoxifen, taken by both sexes to treat breast cancer and by girls for precocious puberty can cause hot flashes. Leuprolide acetate, a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist taken by men to treat prostate cancer in men, endometriosis in women and precocious puberty in both sexes, can also cause hot flashes. Women undergoing fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization are sometimes given leuprolide acetate during their treatment. Medications, such as:
- which relaxes blood vessels; nifedipine
- used to treat enlarged prostate;
- used to lower lipid levels
- can all cause hot flashes
Medications that lower blood pressure, anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants can also induce hot flashes.
- Medications that lower estrogen levels can cause hot flashes in both men and women at age 31.
- Estrogen blockers, such as tamoxifen, taken by both sexes to treat breast cancer and by girls for precocious puberty can cause hot flashes.
Premature Ovarian Failure
Glycerine Vs. Glycol
Menopause normally occurs around age 51. Menopause that starts before age 40 is considered premature ovarian failure, or POF. Hot flashes can start several years before the last menstrual period occurs. Premature ovarian failure has a number of possible causes, including a number of diseases 2.
- Menopause normally occurs around age 51.
- Premature ovarian failure has a number of possible causes, including a number of diseases 2.
Surgical removal of the ovaries in women and testes in men at or before age 31 leads to a sudden drop in estrogen levels and hot flashes. After ovary removal, women enter surgically induced menopause, since the ovaries produce estrogen. Around 75 percent of men who have orchiectomy -- surgery to remove the testes -- develop hot flashes.
What Is Bilateral Gynecomastia?
Some diseases cause symptoms similar to hot flashes induced by low estrogen levels. These can occur at any age, including age 31. Tumors of the hypothalamus or pituitary gland, human immunodeficiency virus, tuberculosis, thyroid disease and alcoholism can all cause hot flashes. Certain spicy foods such as those high in capsaicin-rich peppers might cause symptoms of a hot flash, but these are only food-associated.
- Some diseases cause symptoms similar to hot flashes induced by low estrogen levels.
- Certain spicy foods such as those high in capsaicin-rich peppers might cause symptoms of a hot flash, but these are only food-associated.
Glycerine Vs. Glycol
What Is Bilateral Gynecomastia?
Can HCG Injections Cause Cancer?
Drugs That Make Men Impotent
How to Lose Weight After Going Off Ortho Tri-Cyclen
What Happens When a Man Takes Estrogen?
Hormones to Help Get Pregnant
Drugs to Prevent Hair Growth
Range of Normal Estrogen Levels
Drugs That Cause Peripheral Neuropathy
- Maturitas: Premature Menopause or Early Menopause -- Long-Term Health Consequences
- Merck Manuals Online Medical Library: Premature Ovarian Failure
- Annals of Medical and Health Sciences Research: Premature Menopause
- 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.
A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.