Hot Flashes FAQs
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While most women hear about hot flashes prior to menopause, this common symptom still catches many women off guard when it strikes. This can cause confusion or fear when it comes as a surprise. Many women who are prepared for hot flashes have questions about them, wisely seeking a better understanding of what causes hot flashes and how they can be treated.
Continue reading to find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about hot flashes.
Q: What Are Hot Flashes?
A: Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. Also called “hot flushes”, hot flashes are episodes of intense and sudden heat that come with or without warning and often last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Read on to learn more about the symptoms of hot flashes.
Q: What Are the Symptoms of Hot Flashes?
A: While each woman experiences menopause in her own unique way and according to her own timetable, women who experience hot flashes around the time of menopause find that these episodes often follow a consistent pattern.
While each woman's symptoms vary, the following are the most commonly experienced. It is possible to only show one sign or several in unison.
Common Symptoms of Hot Flashes
Rapid or irregular heartbeat and pulse
Feelings of suffocation
Some women are at risk of more intense and longer lasting hot flashes. Women who go through medical or surgical menopause and those taking the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen are more likely to experience more intense menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes.
Q: How Common Are Hot Flashes?
A: While not all do, most women will experience hot flashes sometime during the menopausal transition. While estimates vary slightly depending on the source, most studies show that 75 to 85% of women will experience postmenopausal hot flashes. Approximately 45% of perimenopausal women will develop this symptom prior to the cessation of menstruation.
Q: When Does a Woman Typically Begin to Experience Hot Flashes?
A: Many women begin to develop hot flashes during perimenopause, or the time leading up to the end of menstruation. Perimenopause frequently begins in a woman's 40s or 50s. Of those affected, most menopausal women will begin to have hot flash episodes one or two years before their last period.
Q: How Long Do Women Usually Experience Hot Flashes?
A: While each woman's experience of hot flashes is slightly unique, the average duration of hot flashes is about two years. That said, it is normal to have hot flashes lasting anywhere from six months to fifteen years.
Q: How Long Does a Hot Flash Episode Last?
A: A typical hot flash episode lasts anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. However, it can take up to 30 minutes for a woman to feel normal again after a hot flash, especially with stronger and more intense hot flashes.
Q: How Frequently Do Hot Flashes Occur?
A: The frequency of hot flashes really depends on the individual woman. Some women experience hot flashes only periodically, though others can have up to 20 episodes each day. Experts say that only 25% of menopausal women will experience extreme and very frequent hot flashes during menopause.
Hot flashes are most likely to occur between six o'clock and eight o'clock in both the morning and the evening; this is because estrogen levels appear to be lowest at these times. Continue reading to learn about the relationship between estrogen and hot flashes.
Q: What Causes Hot Flashes?
A: Most experts believe that changes in estrogen production during menopause are the main reason for hot flashes during this life transition. The ovaries' production of estrogen appears to have a direct effect on the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates body temperature.
When the ovaries begin to produce less estrogen during perimenopause, the hypothalamus gets “tricked” into sensing that the body is overheating and begins to launch a physiological cooling response, which menopausal women experience as hot flashes.
Q: Can Other Conditions Cause Hot Flashes?
A: Yes. In addition to menopause-related hormonal changes, some medical conditions can also cause hot flashes. In some cases, it is not always wise to assume that hot flashes are caused by menopause. This is particularly true for women who are not likely going through menopause or for those who have other unusual symptoms.
Raloxifene (osteoporosis drug)
Tamoxifen (cancer drug)
Q: When Should a Woman Consult a Doctor about Hot Flashes?
A: Any woman who has questions or concerns about hot flashes should not hesitate to contact her doctor. Medical experts state that approximately 10 to 15% of women experience hot flashes severe enough to warrant medical attention.
Women who are not likely entering menopause and those who are experiencing other strange symptoms should speak with a doctor to rule out other causes of hot flashes.
Q: How Can a Woman Manage Hot Flashes?
A: Luckily, several simple measures can successfully reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Oftentimes, the key to managing hot flashes is identifying and avoiding the factors that trigger an episode.
Such hot flashes triggers include warm environments, constricting clothing, hot and/or spicy drinks and foods, stress, anxiety, caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes.
Stress reduction, exercise, and healthy diet can also go a long way toward managing hot flashes during menopause.
If these management techniques are not effective enough, there are further steps that can be taken to rid one's self of hot flashes and live in comfort once again. Keep reading to learn more about these treatment programs.
Q: Can Hot Flashes Be Treated?
A: Yes. Treating the root problem of hormonal imbalance can help to reduce and even stop hot flashes during menopause. Doctors recommend that women begin with the least aggressive approach to treating hot flashes. Fortunately, a number of safe and natural remedies can successfully treat hot flashes.
What Are The Best Ways to Cope With Hot Flashes?
Three approaches can be considered for treating hot flashes: (1) lifestyle changes, (2) alternative remedies, and (3) pharmaceutical options. Most experts recommend that women begin with the least aggressive approach and move to the next level of treatment only if symptoms persist. Click on treatments for hot flashes to discover the best route to relief.
Postmenopausal women are still at risk for enduring the pains of menopause. Certain symptoms, such as hot flashes, are highly common. Hot flashes can be extremely disruptive and may continue well into the later years of life. Women must learn how to recognize and manage this unfortunate persistent symptom of growing older.
Hot flashes are common and unsurprising during the menopause transition, which is why some women may become alarmed if they experience hot flashes before the age of 40. Though unusual, early hot flashes don’t indicate anything life threatening, but may merit a trip to the doctor.