Hot Flashes in the Absence Menopause: Other Explanations
Frederick R. Jelovsek MD
"I am a 32 year old female. Throughout the last year, I've developed "night sweats". I have them sporadically about once a month. I know this is a common occurrence with menopause, but I'm only 32! I also know that I could be starting menopause early. However, are there other conditions that would cause night sweats? Is there a way to prevent them? Thanks a bunch. ". J.S.
The quick answer to this is that at a frequency of once a month, night sweats are not very likely due to a disease process or menopause or even perimenopause. Also at that frequency, I would not suggest going to extreme means to try to stop them other than some of the simple suggestions below.
In the mind of many women, hot flashes are only associated with low estrogens but that is not true. It may surprise you that men have hot flashes too. They can get them if undergoing treatment for prostrate cancer using anti-testosterone therapy, using thermal blankets and from alcohol, hot liquids and other substances.
Both estrogen and testosterone seem to protect against frequent hot flashes. If either of those hormones are withdrawn after one's body is used to them, a rapid increase in skin temperature due to dilatation of the skin blood vessels can occur very frequently.
While these hormones protect from frequent hot flashes, many other events and ingested substances can also cause the skin vessels to rapidly dilate and release heat.
What exactly is a hot flash?
Characteristically, a hot flash (also called hot flush) is a sudden feeling of warmth and often a breakout of sweating usually confined to the upper half of the body (chest and up), neck, face and head.
There is an intense feeling of heat and the face head and neck can turn red. When they occur at night, they are called "night sweats." It can be difficult to distinguish them from a low grade fever such as that seen with the flu, a cold, a urinary tract infection or a more serious cause of fever such as tuberculosis or cancer.
Fevers usually cause the sweating to last longer than the typical few seconds or few minutes that hot flashes last. Non fever caused hot flashes can occur rarely or every few minutes.