Your Hot Flashes Are Not Always Caused By Menopause

Hot flashes are regarded as one of the common symptoms women experience as a part of menopause and perimenopause. However, this is not the only possible cause. In fact, they can actually occur at any age and even affect men.

By definition, the flashes are a feeling of warmth that engulfs the face, neck, and chest. This is also accompanied by excessive sweating, reddening of the skin, an increased heart rate, and eventually, a chilled feeling. Here are a few possible triggers (besides menopause) including tips on how you can deal with them.

1. Excess body weight

Have you gained a lot of weight recently? Experts suggest those with a higher body mass may be more vulnerable to hot flashes in terms of their frequency and severity.

Women who are "overweight and troubled by hot flashes may be able to reduce their discomfort through diet and exercise," said Alison J. Huang, an assistant professor at the University of California San Francisco.

2. Food allergies

Research has shown that hot flashes and similar symptoms could be triggered by food allergies. The likes of wheat, orange, and eggs were highlighted in one study. Alcoholic beverages and caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee can also act as possible triggers.

It may help to keep a food journal and note down your daily meals, highlighting the days when you experience hot flashes. If you suspect a pattern, speak to a medical professional who will conduct tests and help you rule in or rule out a food or additive allergy.

3. Prescription medication

Hot flashes can occur as a side effect when taking drugs such as opioids, steroids, antidepressants, etc. If you recently started a round of medications, look back on the timing of your onset of symptoms.

If they coincide, you should let your doctor know about the possible link. While he or she may offer an alternative, women's health expert Beth Battaglino added that the side effect could just be temporary, disappearing after your body gets used to the medication. In this case, you can be reassured about when the symptoms will start fading.

4. Anxiety

Anxiety has "a very real physiological component," Dr. Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist, told Bustle. "As your heart rate goes up, as your blood pressure raises, as your breathing gets more shallow and as your muscles tense, your body will heat up." 

According to Live Strong, the release of epinephrine or adrenaline by the body can intensify the symptom — an increase in blood flow causes an increase in temperature. This is why you end up feeling hot and sweaty when in a state of excessive worry, stress, or panic. If this is your trigger, look for healthy ways to reduce your anxiety levels and cope with stress.