There are a lot of reasons teen girls can get hot flashes or flushing, but it is important to have this discussion with your doctor so that she can examine you and think about your symptoms knowing your entire medical story. In the meantime, I’ll give you an idea of how I think about hot flashes in a female teen.
The first thing I would want to know is what’s going on with her periods. Did she have them and now they have stopped or they are lighter and she misses a lot of periods? That would make me think about problems that cause the ovary to stop working properly – like premature ovarian failure (fancy medical speak for the ovaries stopping functioning before menopause, when this usually occurs). One common reason for decreased ovarian function is an eating disorder like anorexia. Even extreme exercise and weight loss below what is a normal healthy weight for an individual can lower hormone levels that affect fertility and periods, cause hot flashes, and also cause thinning of the bones. Some girls in certain sports are more at risk for this – such as in track or other sports where making weight is an issue.
In young females with normal periods, anxiety disorders are common cause of hot flashes. Anxiety and anxiety -related disorders are one of the most common mental health issues that teens face. Almost 1 in 10 teens suffer from anxiety. Panic attacks are a specific type of anxiety disorder that causes hot flashes along with a pounding and racing heart, a feeling of dread or terror, and intense anxiety or nervousness.
You don’t have to have an anxiety disorder to experience hot flashes though - emotional flushing, more often known as blushing, causes hot flashes too – it usually occurs when a teen is nervous or embarrassed and has no health problems associated with it.
Did you know that alcohol can cause hot flashes too? This is especially true when combined with certain medications leading to a specific chemical interaction (such as metronidazole which is used for trichomonas and other infections).
Speaking of medications, some medications by themselves can cause hot flashes as a side effect – some of these are blood pressure medications and certain types of anti-depressants. Female teens that have been treated for cancer with chemo drugs may have premature ovarian failure (or early menopause) from the chemo drugs that had to be used to treat her cancer.
Here’s one to consider too: teens who smoke a lot of weed or consume a lot of cannabis on a regular basis can have hot flashes when they stop. This may occur with other symptoms in what is considered a withdrawal syndrome. On the other hand, some teens have hot flashes when they use weed, as opposed to when they stop.
If hot flashes happen along with having a really hard time breathing plus abdominal pain and hives, that could be a severe form of allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This needs medical attention right away.
There are other medical conditions that can cause hot flashes as well, such as having an overactive thyroid. Too much thyroid hormone also causes jitteriness, rapid heart-beat, weight loss and other symptoms.
So, J., you can see there are a bunch of reasons that teens can have hot flashes. I didn’t even cover them all here – but your doctor can sit down with you and think through what you are experiencing and then make some recommendations for you.