Causes of hot & cold flashes

Updated June 13, 2017

Hot and cold flashes may be a symptom of a mild but annoying illness or of a more serious infection, and diagnosis by a doctor may depend on what other symptoms are also present. The flashes may be treated with home remedies, such as wearing clothing made of cotton and staying well hydrated, although medical treatment may be necessary. Consider this information derived from the National Library of Medicine and the Mayo Clinic about this condition's causes.


Spending time in cold or hot climates can cause hot and cold flashes as the body tries to stabilise its internal temperature, according to the NLM.


HIV is a sexually transmitted disease that may also cause these flashes, according to the Mayo Clinic. They can occur soon after becoming infected with HIV and be accompanied by other symptoms, such as fatigue and fever. They can also occur as HIV progresses and may include sweating at night and shaking during cold flashes.


According to the NLM, certain types of short-term illnesses may cause hot and cold flashes, such as urinary-tract infections, gastroenteritis, vomiting, cramping and diarrhoea.


Menopause can be a cause of hot and cold flashes in women. According to the NLM, a decrease in the amount of hormones are the cause, and there may also be accompanying vaginal dryness. Women over the age of 45 are most likely to be affected.

Personal Habits

According to the Mayo Clinic, women who are in perimenopause (the period approaching menopause) and who are overweight or obese are more likely to have hot flushes than women who are within a healthy weight range, as are women who smoke or have a sedentary lifestyle.

Respiratory Infections

Bacterial or viral respiratory infections may cause people to experience hot and cold flashes, according to the NLM. Viruses, including influenza and the common cold, as well as pneumonia and strep throat, may cause these symptoms, as well.

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About the Author

Jessica Lietz has been writing about health-related topics since 2009. She has several years of experience in genetics research, survey design, analysis and epidemiology, working on both infectious and chronic diseases. Lietz holds a Master of Public Health in epidemiology from The Ohio State University.