A hot flash or hot flush is a sudden, temporary feeling of heat (intense warmth) and sweating, usually in the upper body, most intensively over the face, neck, and chest. Hot flashes can also be accompanied by flushing or reddening of the skin (1, 2).
When hot flashes occur at night, they are known as night sweats and they usually disrupt the sleep. The duration and frequency of hot flashes can vary depending on the triggering factor.
Keep reading this post to know about the causes of hot flashes in teenagers, the associated symptoms, home care tips, and more.
Can Teenagers Have Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes primarily occur in menopausal women. However, men and adolescents may also experience hot flashes due to various reasons, which may signify an underlying medical condition that need to be identified promptly.
Causes of Hot Flashes in Teenagers
Hot flashes in teenagers can be caused by various triggering factors and conditions that we discuss next.
- Panic disorder and phobia: Adolescents with panic disorder experience recurring and sudden episodes of intense fear or discomfort. This onset of this disorder is usually between the ages of 15 and 19 years. Symptoms can include shortness of breath or feeling smothered, dizziness, faintness, choking, racing heart rate, trembling or shaking, nausea, hot flashes or chills, numbness or tingling sensation, chest pain or discomfort, and fear of dying, losing mind, or losing control (3, 4).
A phobia is “an extreme anxiety response toward something that is not causing immediate danger.” Anxiety and phobia) can also present similar symptoms and limit teenager’s activities and impact the quality of life (4).
- Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism): This condition causes your child’s thyroid gland to secrete excessive thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism is characterized by anxiety, irritability, nervousness, excessive sweating, heat intolerance (always feeling warm or hot flashes), decreased or poor school performance, slight tremor, increased heart rate, increased appetite (with or without weight loss), lighter and irregular menstrual cycles in teenage girls, increased frequency of bowel movements, fatigue, and restless sleep (5).
- Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI): This condition is defined as the dysfunction or depletion of ovarian follicles before the age of 40 years. In other words, POI is premature ovarian failure in female adolescents and is often caused by chromosomal abnormalities or damage caused due to chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer (6). The ovaries of women and girls with POI don’t make enough estrogen, which can hinder growth and development. The most common symptoms are abnormal menstrual cycle, such as oligomenorrhea (menstruation cycle longer than 35 days) or polymenorrhea (menstruation cycle is less than 21 days long) and lack of breast development, however hot flashes or vaginal dryness (dyspareunia) may also occur (6).
Teenagers can often miss symptoms of primary ovarian insufficiency as they are similar to that of menopause.
- Cancer: Night sweats can be an early symptom of a few types of cancers, such as lymphoma. However, hot flashes in the night are not the only symptoms. Others can include fatigue, fever, and weight loss (7). In any case, a proper diagnosis by the doctor is essential before determining this.
[ Read: Night Sweats In Children ]
- Other triggers: Eating spicy food, drinking hot drinks, wearing tight clothes, smoking, consumption of caffeine or alcohol, being in a warm or closed room, intake of certain medications (side effects), and a few food additives may also cause hot flashes (2). Although, the intensity of response or its absence may vary individually.
Can Puberty Cause Hot Flashes?
After puberty (sexual maturity) and during the rest of the reproductive time in a female, estradiol level in ovaries is high. Because of this, the body only tolerates only 0.5 degrees variation in the body temperature without activating the compensation mechanism in the central nervous system (CNS). That is the reason why an adolescent’s CNS does not respond to changes in weather with hot flashes.
However, with the decline in estrogen levels, the hypothalamus control of the temperature is disturbed, and even a small change in temperature triggers a hot flash (11).
Symptoms of Hot Flashes in Teens
- Sensation of heat or skin feels warm
- Skin temperature increases, especially in the fingers, cheeks, forehead, upper arms, chest, abdomen, back, calves, and thighs.
- Flushing (reddening of skin usually around the face, neck, and chest)
- Profuse or excessive sweating on the upper body
- Clamminess (sweaty skin)
- Increased heart rate (pounding sensation)
[ Read: Heat Rashes In Children ]
Treatment for Hot Flashes in Teens
Healthcare practitioners may diagnose the cause for hot flashes based on the description of the symptoms experienced. An evaluation of medical history and other associated symptoms may help identify the triggering factors or underlying conditions.
Treatment of hot flashes in teenagers may depend on the triggering factors or conditions. The line of treatment can include the following.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: It is a type of talking therapy that is found to be effective in treating anxiety or panic disorders. The therapy helps your child learn skills and techniques to cope with anxiety, panic, and undesirable thoughts or feelings (8).
- Medications: Healthcare practitioners may prescribe medications along with the therapy. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are used in children and adolescents. However, tricyclic antidepressants and benzodiazepines are not so commonly used in children (8).
- Hormonal therapy: According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, hormone therapy in female adolescents to treat primary ovarian insufficiency is focused on replacing hormones that ovaries are meant to produce before menopause (6). Therefore, younger women may need higher doses of estrogen than menopausal women. In addition, estradiol and progesterone may also be used in hormone therapy for teenage girls once they reach sexual maturity (6).
- Anti-thyroid medicines: To slow the release of thyroid hormone, healthcare practitioners may suggest anti-thyroid medicines (9).
[ Read: Thyroid Problems In Teens ]
Home Remedies for Teens Hot Flashes
Besides addressing the causative factor or condition, you may also encourage your child to follow these home-care and lifestyle tips (10).
- Dietary changes: Try and avoid caffeine, spicy food, and alcohol. Eating a well-balanced diet with all nutrients from different food groups can also help your child. Avoid food items containing additives (sulphites) that can trigger hot flashes.
- Deep breathing: Encourage your child to do deep breathing exercises for 10 to 15 minutes every day. This can help in preventing anxiety and panic-creating situations. You may also get them to try other self-calming techniques like yoga and meditation.
- Physical activity: Regular physical exercise will help maintain the general wellbeing of your child.
- Cotton clothes: Light cotton and airy clothes can help keep your child feel comfortable, especially during hot weather that can trigger hot flashes.
[ Read: Excessive Sweating In Teenagers ]
Avoid self-medication for managing hot flashes. If your child experiences recurring hot flashes, schedule a visit to your healthcare practitioner.
Hot flashes in teenagers can occur due to various reasons. Few triggers or causes can be managed at home, and others may require medical attention. If your child complains of hot flashes without an evident trigger such as the weather or food or physical activity and also shows other alarming symptoms, seek immediate medical advice.
2. Freedman, R. R. Hot flashes: behavioral treatments, mechanisms, and relation to sleep: The American journal of medicine, 118(12), 124-130. (2005).
3. Ollendick, T. H., Mattis, S. G., & King, N. J. Panic in children and adolescents: A review: Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 35(1), 113-134. (1994).
4. Your Adolescent-Anxiety and Avoidant Disorders: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. (n.d.).
5. Hyperthyroidism: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. (n.d.).
6. Primary Ovarian Insufficiency in Adolescents and Young Women: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2014).
7. Night Sweats: International Hyperhidrosis Society. (n.d.).
8. Anxiety disorders in children: Anxiety Disorders Association of America. (n.d.).
9. Hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease: The Nemours Foundation. (2018).
10. Menopause: Non-Hormonal Treatment & Relief for Hot Flashes: Cleveland Clinic. (2017).
11. Hot Flash Connection to Puberty: Obstetrics & Gynecology Menopause Blog. (2016).
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