Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. Nearly two-thirds of women in perimenopause experience them. The exact cause of hot flashes isn't known; however, research has shown that fluctuating hormone levels can cause women to experience hot flashes.
What Are Hot Flashes in Young Women?
Hot flashes are sudden and intense bursts of heat most often felt in the face, neck, and chest. They can cause a flushed face, increased heart rate, and profuse sweating. Hot flashes occur when blood vessels near the surface of the skin dilate to cool the body down. In addition to feeling hot and sweating, a woman may experience chills.
Menopausal women have hot flashes because of the decreased levels of hormones in their body. Most women begin to experience hot flashes during perimenopause, around the age of 45, and for a few years before reaching menopause. While there are some women who go through menopause in their early or mid-30s, menopause isn't the only reason for experiencing hot flashes.
Causes of Hot Flashes in Young Women
As mentioned above, hormone levels often regulate hot flashes, but there are a few other causes, such as:
- Estrogen levels. A drop or change in estrogen levels can cause young women to have hot flashes. Diet changes and stress can also affect the levels of estrogen in a woman's body. Although it's uncommon for women in their 20's and 30's to go through menopause, it is possible.
- Diet. Certain types of foods, like meats and leafy vegetables, with high concentrations of nitrites, as well as wine and juices with sulfites, can induce hot flashes.
- Hyperthyroidism. An overactive thyroid gland can produce too many thyroid hormones in the blood, and cause young women to have hot flashes.
- Premature ovarian failure (POF). POF occurs when a woman's ovaries stop working before she's 40-years-old. This isn't the same as premature menopause, but can produce similar symptoms. Women with POF still have a period, but may have trouble with fertility and can experience hot flashes, vaginal dryness, irregular periods, and decreased sex drive.
- Hysterectomy. A hysterectomy is an operation to remove the uterus. A young woman who has this surgery may go into menopause early. If the ovaries are removed, menopause occurs, causing many symptoms, including hot flashes.
- Other conditions. HIV, diabetes, tuberculosis, fatigue, extreme temperatures, and smoking can induce hot flashes.
Treatments for Hot Flashes in Young Women
There are a number of treatments for hot flashes, such as:
- Avoid triggers. Alcohol, caffeine, smoking, and other harmful substances can lead to hot flashes. Each woman is different, and while some might not be affected by these substances at all, others may be highly effected.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. This will help regulate hormone levels.
- Exercise regularly. Running, jogging and other aerobic activity is great for the body and mind, and can help regulate hormone levels.
- Alternative medicines can help relax the body and restore hormonal balance.
- Herbal supplements, such as soy, black cohosh, red clover, pine bark supplement, folic acid, and evening primrose oil may also help your symptoms. Before taking these therapies, consult a doctor, as some of them may not react well with other medications that you are taking.
- Other alternative medicines to consider include aromatherapy and acupuncture.
- Home changes, such as:
- Wear more cotton clothes and use cotton sheets instead of synthetics
- Keep a small fan with you for when you feel a hot flash coming
- Take cool or luke-warm baths.
- If you experience hot flashes at night, have multiple thin layers of covers on your bed so that you can shed them easily and regulate your temperature.
If you are a young woman experiencing hot flashes, consult your doctor. Hormonal test can be done to rule out any underlying medical conditions and appropriate treatment can be arranged.
Read on treatments of hot flashes.
- National Health Service UK.(n.d). Hot Flushes. Retrieved on July 22, 2015 from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/menopause/Pages/hot-flushes.aspx
- Sikon, Andrea and Holly Thacker M.D. "Treatment for Menopausal Hot Flashes". Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. July 2004: 71 (7).
- "Hot flashes ... in January". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2004: 170 (1).
- Miller, Heather and Rose Maria Li, M.D. "Measuring Hot Flashes: Summary of a National Institutes of Health Workshop". Conference report. Mayo Clinic. June 2004: 79.