Hot flashes in men
The term hot flashes is usually understood to mean a sudden feeling of warmth or heat that usually begins in the trunk or neck area and continues towards the head.
This sensation is usually accompanied by increased sweating and an increased heart rate as well as a noticeable throbbing in the chest. The term describes a symptom that predominantly affects women who are going through menopause. But men of all ages can also suffer from hot flashes.
The causes of hot flashes in men are basically similar to those in women - only that male bodies are much less subject to the cycles of sex hormones and therefore do not actually go through menopause (for more details, see below).
Still, regardless of gender, people can experience hot flashes for other causes. This includes:
- Stress, which puts the body in a permanent state of alarm, so to speak. Due to the increased stress hormones in the body, even small causes are sufficient to cause a sudden, noticeable stress reaction such as hot flashes.
Please also read: Consequences of stress
- Furthermore, hot flashes or the underlying stress reaction can be an expression of an anxiety and panic disorder.
This article might also interest you: Generalized anxiety disorder
- The use of alcohol and drugs can also trigger hot flashes, both as part of the effects and after use.
- Last but not least, malfunctions of the body's own glands can be the cause of hot flashes: The thyroid or adrenal glands should therefore be considered in the diagnosis.
For detailed information on this topic, see: Causes of Hot Flashes
Thyroid as a cause of hot flashes
A disorder of the thyroid gland - more precisely an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) - can be a possible cause of hot flashes. Thyroid hormones are basically responsible for modulation, i.e. adapting the metabolic function in the body. To do this, they work, among other things, on the receptors that are activated by adrenaline and noradrenaline - the short-acting and fast-acting stress hormones in the human body. These so-called "adrenergic receptors" are made more sensitive by the thyroid hormones and react faster and stronger.
An overproduction of this thyroid gland therefore typically leads to an increased effect of adrenaline and noradrenaline: The heart beats faster and harder (and sometimes irregularly), sweating and hot flashes can occur in the affected person for no apparent reason.
Other symptoms of an overactive thyroid include mental restlessness and restlessness, insomnia, irritability, weight loss, and hair loss.
Read more on this topic at: Hot Flashes and Thyroid - What is the Link?
Hot flashes from alcohol
Alcohol consumption affects much more in the body than just the state of consciousness: It also causes the blood vessels to widen, which can be perceived, for example, by increased blood flow to the limbs and face. This also leads to a warming of the skin, since it is now better supplied with the warmth from the body trunk. This can of course be perceived as pleasant - or represent a hot flash for the person concerned.
Furthermore, alcohol interferes with the control center of body temperature. Here he adjusts the "target temperature" of the body upwards. During and after alcohol consumption, the body is, as a normal reaction, warmer than usual. However, due to the falling alcohol level in the blood, the target temperature also drops again. As a result, the brain detects an imbalance between the increased temperature and the target temperature, i.e. overheating. The consequences are usually a slight increase in sweating to cool the body again. However, hot flashes can also be perceived subjectively in this situation.
Hot flashes while sleeping
If attack-like temperature changes occur during sleep, these are sometimes only noticed by the person concerned after they have woken up. For example, wet sleeping clothes or bed linen can indicate hot flashes while sleeping.
Unintentional awakening at night can also be associated with hot flashes. Occurring together, disturbed sleep and hot flashes often indicate severe stress, which puts the body on constant alert. However, if the symptoms persist for several weeks without a recognizable (stress) cause, or if the level of suffering due to the symptoms is high, medical advice should always be sought.
Learn more about this topic in the following articles:
- sleep disorders
- Sweating at night
Does men go through menopause?
In fact, some men experience a hormonal change between the ages of 50 and 60, which is sometimes blatantly referred to as "male menopause" or something similar.
Correctly, however, it must be said that the hormonal changes in men are of course not comparable to those in women:
- While the female body is subject to greater fluctuations in several different sex hormones, the hormone fluctuations in the male body are far less. Accordingly, the change in the male hormone balance is less fundamental than in women and is therefore much less or not at all noticed by the people affected. Due to the smaller differences in the fluctuations, an unequivocal diagnosis of "male menopause" is difficult.
Whether this hormonal change is a trigger for the hot flashes should therefore only be decided after more likely causes have been ruled out.
Read more at: Medication for menopause
Other accompanying symptoms
Hot flashes always occur in the body with the participation of so-called adrenergic hormones: These include adrenaline and noradrenaline. Both are stress hormones that act briefly and quickly to increase the body's metabolism in the short term. Adrenergic hormones act on the whole body and ensure, among other things, an increase in the heart rate, blood pressure and widening of the blood vessels. On the one hand, the latter can lead to the hot flashes discussed here.
However, other accompanying symptoms of hot flashes can also be a noticeably faster pulse or high blood pressure, which for some affected people is then perceptible as a “throbbing in the chest”. If the cause of the hot flashes lasts for a long time (about several weeks), the permanent state of stress in the body can also lead to unplanned weight loss and sleep disorders (see hyperthyroidism).
Read: Increased pulse
An increased susceptibility to minor infections, such as the common cold, can also be an accompanying symptom of long-term hot flashes, as stress hinders the function of the immune system. Last but not least, the hot flashes can also occur as part of an anxiety disorder. Correspondingly, the affected persons also suffer from panic states with, for example, subjective shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea.
Hot flashes with sweats
As a common accompanying symptom of hot flashes, those affected often experience sweats. This is because the development of the two symptoms is related: the heat sensation of the skin in turn reacts the sweat glands, which now want to cool the body. As a result, there is an accompanying outbreak of sweat mainly on the parts of the body that are affected by the hot flash. In addition, the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline can also activate the sweat glands, which simultaneously trigger the hot flush.
Also read: Sweating
Hot flashes in themselves represent a subjective sensation and cannot be objectified. So for a diagnosis, the cause of the hot flashes should be found out.
To do this, it is advisable to first have a detailed medical discussion in order to address the accompanying symptoms, the duration of the complaints and the lifestyle of the person concerned. Psychological stress in everyday life should also be inquired about.
Furthermore, the body's metabolic and stress hormones can be checked:
- Above all, this includes the thyroid hormones, since an overactive thyroid is one of the common causes of sudden hot flashes.
- The hormones of the adrenal glands can also be checked if no cause could be found in the previous diagnosis. These include cortisol, sex hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline. However, disorders of these hormones are far less common and are therefore usually only considered after the more common causes have been clarified or ruled out.
At this point we recommend our next article on the subject below: Hot flashes without menopause
The treatment of hot flashes depends of course on the underlying cause.
For example, the trigger can be in the lifestyle or habits of the person concerned, such as stress, alcohol or drug use. Correspondingly, the following should be started at this point: Methods for stress reduction such as relaxation techniques or sport can help improve hot flashes due to stress. Abstinence from alcohol, drugs or certain medications can also provide relief. Particularly with regard to the medication, however, you should urgently consult the attending physician, under no circumstances may the intake schedule of a preparation be changed independently!
If there is evidence of hormonal causes, drug therapy can help, which reduces the production of stress or metabolic hormones: If the thyroid is overactive, for example, thyrostatic drugs reduce the thyroid hormones in the body so that the blood level of these hormones is back to normal. Such hormonal diseases are almost always chronic, so such drugs must be taken for life. If the symptoms are better, the preparations must not be discontinued.
Hot flashes should improve significantly once their trigger is treated or corrected. The measures that can contribute to this are described above - but sometimes these are also “self-limiting” complaints: This means that the hot flashes will disappear after a while without further measures.
If this is not the case, or if measures such as stress reduction do not help, the family doctor should be (repeatedly) consulted. Hot flashes that last for many months or years usually only occur in women who are in the process of changing hormones during menopause.
You can find out how long hot flashes can last in the next article: Duration of hot flashes