Hello flu, goodbye hot flashes. Huh?
May 18, 2016 2:22 PM   Subscribe

I've been having frequent hot flashes consistently for the past ten years, have tried numerous remedies and finally decided that keeping folding fans strategically placed around the house was the only workable option. But since I first came down with the flu, the hot flashes have vanished.

I came down with the flu 2+ weeks ago which subsequently morphed into a kidney infection and a touch of pneumonia for good measure. After three days of a ten day course of antibiotics, I'm feeling much better but would love to understand why I've not had any hot flashes. If I could suss that out, perhaps I could figure out how to stop them once and for all.

Essentially, nothing else has changed. My diet is the same (except for the few days I had no appetite), I've been completely decaffeinated for about a year, my intense workouts have continued (again, except for the days I've felt too awful to go to the gym), I never ran much of a fever and even then only off-and-on for a few days, and my symptoms were primarily respiratory and periods of chills and aches.

I've asked my doctor and he just shrugged and suggested I keep my fingers crossed that the hot flashes never come back. So, oh wise ones of Ask Metafilter, any hypotheses?
posted by DrGail to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
When you say "the flu", do you mean influenza (cough, fever, body aches) or the stomach flu (vomiting and diarrhea)?
posted by KathrynT at 2:34 PM on May 18, 2016

Definitely not the stomach flu - respiratory symptom, occasional fever and body aches.
posted by DrGail at 2:41 PM on May 18, 2016

Correlation isn't causation. Your hormones shifted somehow because of who knows what reasons, so no more hot flashes. You also, confidentially, had the flu around the same time.
posted by slateyness at 3:02 PM on May 18, 2016

it doesn't seem crazy, to me, to suspect that there's some connection,perhaps via the hyperthalmus, which controls your body temperature - either as part of the immune response or reacting to changes in hormone levels (a possible mechanism for hot flushes). however, it's odd that the change is permanent. as your doctor said - cross your fingers and hope they stay away...
posted by andrewcooke at 3:17 PM on May 18, 2016

Hot flashes associated with menopause are (in my understanding) caused by decreased estrogen which tricks your hypothalamus into detecting too much body heat. Antipyretics work to lower fever indirectly by inhibiting prostaglandins and other stuff in the cns\pns. Have you been taking anything to lower your fever?
posted by pintapicasso at 3:29 PM on May 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've been taking Advil occasionally - more often a few days ago to lessen the pain from the rib I cracked coughing (which I didn't mention) - but certainly not nonstop.
posted by DrGail at 4:20 PM on May 18, 2016

Did you lose weight?

Often auto-immune things (not that hot flashes are such a thing, but they aren't an infection either) calm down when the body has something else to work on; for example, Crohn's sufferers get better when they have a hookworm infestation. So perhaps the immune reaction to the infections had an effect or the sudden weight loss triggered something else. It could have also been a knock-on effect; to fight off the infection your body temperature might have gone up and so your body was suppressing flushing to keep the temperature up.

But, about the only thing you could replicate without infecting yourself with other flu variants is fasting. Maybe 3-day fasts are needed, or intermittent fasting will work. Your hormone levels are said to change fairly quickly with fasting (here's some random article mentioning testosterone; there are probably better resources out there). So if it comes back, I would try fasting.
posted by flimflam at 5:10 PM on May 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

That's a very interesting observation.

A long time ago (back in the 80s!), I read a brief paragraph in Scientific American describing a study in which most flu patients had suffered an impairment to their aerobic metabolism which lasted up to a year in the worst cases.

I've glanced around online for that study or other confirmation of the effect a couple of times without success, but today I found a report of an experiment which showed that artificial impairment of metabolism of mammalian cells in culture blocks replication of the flu virus:
In lab cultures of mammalian cells, researchers showed that influenza A infection could be controlled by targeting viruses' dependence on cellular glucose. Boosting glucose concentrations concomitantly increased influenza infection rate, and treating viral cells with glucose metabolism inhibitor significantly decreased viral replication. Researchers also demonstrated that infection could be restored to high levels simply by adding ATP, major source of energy for cellular reactions, bypassing the need for glucose.
So my guess is that your body turned down some aspects your metabolism to limit the flu infection, and that it hasn't recovered enough yet to generate the extra heat required by hot flashes.

If hot flashes don't recur, however, I wouldn't say your metabolism has necessarily not recovered; interrupting a cycle such as you've been experiencing for the last ten years might be enough to kill it.
posted by jamjam at 5:49 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have a friend who was having hot flashes, and she had an infection in her common bile duct, and it was occluded. So she had a low grade infection, and actually spiked fevers confused, as hot flashes, and she is a nurse practitioner. Something finally reached critical, and it got fixed, but it was a siege.
posted by Oyéah at 8:28 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

For anyone who comes across this question in the future: Four weeks after posting this question, I'm sorry to report that the hot flashes have returned. While they're not quite at their previous intensity, I expect that another week or so will erase that discrepancy. But the relief was great while it lasted, and I'm very grateful to everyone who provided some perspective on the issue.
posted by DrGail at 9:59 AM on June 15, 2016

« Older Help me stop staring at other women's breasts   |   GPS / Heart Rate Monitors, Linux, Cycling... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.