Common Triggers and Causes of Hot Flashes

A hot flash is a sudden feeling of intense heat that comes from inside the body, rather than from external sources. Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause and can be experienced in multiple ways. Some people feel a tingling in their fingers. Others notice that their heartbeat has sped up. Others feel their skin becoming warmer, and their face becoming flushed. Others sweat profusely. And of course, you may feel a combination of some or all of these.

The exact cause of hot flashes is unknown. They may be caused by decreased estrogen or even a change in other hormone levels. During a hot flash, the part of your brain that controls body temperature is affected.

A woman wipes her face in nature

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Certain things sometimes trigger the onset of hot flashes, including:

  • being in a hot room, or out in hot weather
  • eating hot or spicy foods
  • drinking alcohol
  • consuming products that contain caffeine
  • feeling stressed or anxious
  • wearing tight, constricting clothing
  • smoking, or even being exposed to cigarette smoke
  • foods and drinks containing high amounts of sugar
  • sugar and insulin imbalance

Avoiding things that trigger your hot flashes can significantly lower the intensity of your hot flashes, as well as the number of hot flashes you experience during menopause and perimenopause. If you experience frequent hot flashes, start to take note of what may have triggered them. If you begin to notice a pattern, you can make an attempt to avoid the most common culprits.

How to Avoid Hot Flashes

  1. Dressing in light, loose layers can help. You'll feel less constricted and, even if you do experience a hot flash, you can peel off a few layers.
  2. You can also learn some deep breathing techniques so as to relax the body and help regular your interior temperature.
  3. Avoid overheating your house. If you're suffering through hot flashes, you should always automatically win the thermostat wars in your home.
  4. Drink lots of water. This is a healthy habit to take up at any time.
  5. Consider hormone therapy. Though this isn't the right option for everyone, your doctor will be able to give you a better idea of whether or not you're a good candidate for this treatment.

Other suggestions have been passed around, including certain medication and herbal supplements, but not enough research has been conducted in order to determine whether these treatments are any more effective than a placebo. Do your homework if you're considering these alternative means of hot flash self-treatment.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Freedman RR. Menopausal hot flashes: mechanisms, endocrinology, treatment. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 142:115-20. doi:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2013.08.010

  2. National Institute on Aging. What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Menopause?.

  3. National Institute on Aging. Hot Flashes: What Can I Do?.

By Tracee Cornforth
Tracee Cornforth is a freelance writer who covers menstruation, menstrual disorders, and other women's health issues.