Abnormal feeling of warmth and coldness in the body are commonly referred to as hot and cold flashes respectively. It has often been attributed to poor functioning of the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that regulates the body temperature.
A person complaining about hot flashes experiences unusual sensation of heat that rapidly spreads all over the body and is commonly accompanied by too much sweating and throbbing heartbeat. On the other hand, cold flashes cause an intense feeling of coldness, similar to chills.
The onset of hot and cold flashes indicates temporary disturbances in the functioning of the hypothalamus. The term ‘hypothalamus’ describes a specific region of the brain that performs a wide range of functions including controlling the body temperature. It monitors the body temperature with the help of certain chemical messengers known as hormones. The production of hormones like estrogen and testosterone in normal amounts is crucial for maintaining normal temperature of the body.
Hormonal imbalance is one of the most common side effects associated with pregnancy. Estrogen and progesterone are the two hormones that no longer remain in normal amounts at the time of pregnancy. These hormonal changes interfere with the normal functioning of the hypothalamus, which many times causes night sweats. Hormonal fluctuations can also occur in the first stages of pregnancy. No wonder, this unusual feeling of warmth and coldness in early pregnancy is a common complaint. There are also chances of few of the just arrived mothers suffering from hot and cold flashes after pregnancy. Time window to watch out for this happening, stretches for a few weeks after childbirth. However, there is no cause of worry, as it is due to hormones trying to regulate themselves.
In today’s hectic lifestyle, we are often exposed to stressful situations that can cause excessive sweating or trigger a sudden feeling of coldness. Be it attending interview for a job or taking part in an adventurous sports activity, one does get anxious in these situations, eventually leading to the onset of hot and cold flashes.
When the body is unable to produce estrogen in sufficient amounts, it can have a negative impact on the hypothalamus. The hormone estrogen is present in women, which plays an important role in the development of female sex characteristics. The decrease in estrogen during menopause is the main culprit behind hypothalamic dysfunction, which leads to hot flashes.
The thyroid gland found in the neck area manufactures two hormones thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3). These hormones also assist to regulate body temperature. When the thyroid gland stops functioning properly, the hormones are no longer produced in normal amounts. As a result, the person may experience sudden feeling of warmth and coldness alternatively.
Abnormal Blood Sugar levels
Blood sugar deviating from normal range can also cause alternating episodes of hot and cold flashes at night. Thus, both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia can cause these unusual feelings of warmth and cold.
The beginning of menstrual periods in young women is bound to cause minor health issues that commonly manifest in the form of unusual feelings of warmth and cold with headache. However, once the body adjusts itself to this periodic discharge, frequency of hot flashes in young women goes on decreasing during menstruation.
Getting addicted to alcohol is easy but getting rid of this habit of consuming too much alcohol is difficult. As the body gets used to heavy drinking, taking alcohol in less amounts is likely to trigger withdrawal symptoms like hot and cold flashes with nausea accompanied by shakiness and anxiety.
In most patients, experiencing sudden warmth and coldness alternatively is an occasional phenomenon and so, treatment is not required. However, if these unusual sensations are occurring frequently and affecting your quality of life, it is time to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.