These 5 Things (That Aren’t Menopause) Could Be Causing Your Hot Flashes

A woman with anxiety featured image

Anxiety is also a sign. | iStock.com/Viktor_Gladkov

Most people attribute hot flashes and random moments of sweating to menopausal symptoms. But if you’re under 40 and in good health, these hot flashes may seem a bit premature — and slightly concerning.

There are other reasons you could be experiencing hot flashes that aren’t biological and actually a result of external factors in your life and body. We’ve rounded up the top five reasons you could be unnecessarily overheating, and how to fix them.

1. Excessive weight gain

Most people are familiar with, or at least aware of, the relationship between weight gain and metabolism. Since your body fat is metabolically active, excess weight that you put on can screw with your metabolism — also promoting hot flashes, Beth Battaglino, RN, told Prevention.

Changing your diet and increasing your exercise are two surefire ways to bring relief to hot flashes associated with excessive weight gain. Overweight and obese women who ate healthily and exercised around 200 minutes a week reported fewer hot flashes than those who didn’t attempt to change their lifestyle, a University of California, San Francisco study found.

2. Anxiety

While there’s plenty of anxiety associated with menopause, hot flashes as a result of anxiety alone can strike at any age. “Anxiety” is a word mental health experts associated with the physical symptoms of stress and worry. Hot flashes that result from anxiety usually occur suddenly, involve uncontrollable sweat, and can make you feel extremely hot even when your environment is a normal temperature.

Hot flashes that result from anxiety are fairly unpredictable and can occur anywhere on your body, encompass your entire body, or persistently affect just one area of your body. They can come and go rarely or occur frequently and may change frequency over time.

If you experience hot flashes as a result of anxiety and apprehensive behavior, you can end the hot flashes by practicing relaxed breathing, increasing your rest, and trying not to worry about the hot flashes. Hot flashes are a symptom of your body’s reaction to stress and will disappear once your body and mind have relaxed.

3. A reaction to food or allergy

If you love spicy Thai or hot sauce then you’re probably no stranger to the hot flashes that result from eating hot foods. Caffeine and alcohol can trigger these hot flashes as well and eating lighter foods as well as eliminating alcohol and caffeine generally stops hot flashes.

However, if you still notice a persistent issue, you could have an unidentified food allergy that’s upsetting your body. Pay attention to what foods you eat that result in hot flashes and seek a doctor or dietician’s advice if the symptoms persist.

4. Your bedroom is too hot

Night sweats aren’t a symptom exclusive to menopause. Many premenopausal women have woken up in a cold sweat with hot flashes. While night sweats can occur as a result of hormonal changes or infections, they may also be a result of your body temperature’s natural fluctuation.

If you notice persistent hot flashes that come on in the middle of your sleep, the solution may be closer than you think. “It may be as simple a fix as turning down the thermostat or sleeping with fewer blankets or clothes,” Lynn Simpson, MD, an ob-gyn at Cleveland Clinic, told Prevention.

5. Prescription medication

Many prescription drugs — including antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and osteoporosis drugs — include hot flashes as a common side effect. For those with anxiety, your hot flashes could be a result of both your physical anxiety and the medication you take to manage it.

Battaglino recommends looking for symptoms soon after starting a new course of medication. “If they coincide, you’ll know that’s probably the cause,” she adds. However, if the discomfort continues, consult your doctor about switching to a similar medication that doesn’t cause a heat reaction.

Check out more information on the easiest ways to relieve hot flashes.

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