Hot Flashes

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Diagram: Hot flashes hormonal causesHot flashes are one of the most common symptoms experienced by women around the time of menopause. In fact, approximately half of all perimenopausal women and 75 to 85% of all postmenopausal women experience hot flashes.

While the onset, duration, frequency, and severity of hot flashes varies greatly between women, hot flashes often begin one or two years before a woman's last period and can last anywhere from six months to fifteen years.

Hot flashes are caused by hormonal fluctuations that occur during the menopausal transition. Fortunately, treating this underlying hormonal imbalance naturally and making simple lifestyle changes can significantly help a woman manage this symptom. Continue reading to learn more about hot flashes, their symptoms, causes, management, and treatments.

What Are Hot Flashes?

Hot flashes, also called “hot flushes”, are a vasomotor symptom of menopause. This means that hot flashes can disrupt the normal functioning of the vascular and motor systems of the body, causing intense heat, perspiration, and other symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

The duration and frequency of hot flashes varies from woman to woman. Hot flashes can occur at any time of the day or night, though they are often called night sweats when they happen during sleeping hours.

Women with menopause-related hot flashes will usually experience a consistent and unique pattern of symptoms. Some women experience mild symptoms of hot flashes infrequently, while others experience more severe symptoms multiple times each day.

Signs and Symptoms of Hot Flashes

The following are the most common signs and symptoms of hot flashes:

Sudden, intense feelings of heat. In the face, neck, arms, torso, and sometimes the whole body.

Rapid or irregular heartbeat and pulse. Including heart palpitations.

Flushing or reddened face and neck, particularly in lighter skinned women.

Perspiration. Ranging from mild to profuse.

Cold chills. Often follow hot flashes, though sometimes women only experience the chill.

Sleep disturbances. They occur at night, and are also known as night sweats. Estrogen levels are often lowest at night, which is why women often experience nocturnal hot flashes.

Other symptoms. Nausea, dizziness, anxiety, and headaches.

While each woman will experience the symptoms of hot flashes in a pattern that is unique to her, some women are at a greater risk for more severe and prolonged hot flashes. Women taking the breast cancer treatment drug tamoxifen may experience more severe and prolonged hot flashes. Additionally, women who have total hysterectomies will often experience hot flashes more severely and for a longer duration.

Click on the following link to read more information about hot flashes, or continue reading below to learn more about the causes of hot flashes.

Q&A: Hot Flushes during Menopause

This article explains what hot flushes are and how they are a symptom of menopause. Shows how hormonal imbalances can cause an uncomfortable spike in body temperature. Provides advice on how to avoid these troublesome menopause symptoms and advises avoiding triggers and making lifestyle changes to promote overall health.

Controlling Hot Flashes Symptoms

This article explains the symptoms of a menopausal hot flash. This information can be useful for a woman to determine if her symptoms are actually a menopausal hot flash, which is a natural part of menopause. Common symptoms include a burst of heat, sweating, chills, and headache.

Causes of Hot Flashes

Hormonal Causes

The most common cause of hot flashes in menopausal women is changing levels of estrogen in the body. Diminished amounts of estrogen have a direct effect on the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for controlling appetite, sex hormones, sleep, and body temperature.

Diagram: Hot flashes hormonal causes

Lowered levels of estrogen confuse the hypothalamus, causing it to inaccurately sense that the body is overheating. This provokes an internal chain of reactions that women experience as “hot flashes”.

In addition to these completely normal hormonal causes of hot flashes, other medical conditions can also cause hot flashes.

Other Causes of Hot Flashes

Certain medical conditions and medications can sometimes cause a person to experience hot flashes. For this reason, women for whom menopause is unlikely or women with other unexplained symptoms should consult a doctor to rule out these other potential causes of hot flashes.

Diseases that can cause hot flashes:

Panic disorder

Infection

Cancer

Diabetes

Hyperhidrosis

Thyroid disease

Obesity

Medications that can cause hot flashes:

Raloxifene (osteoporosis drug)

Tamoxifen (cancer drug)

Gonadotropin analogues (nafarelin)

Click on the following link to read more information about the causes of hot flashes, or keep reading to learn about managing hot flashes through simple measures, including the avoidance of common hot flash triggers.

Unexpected Causes of Hot Flashes during Menopause

Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. It can be difficult for a woman to feel fresh and confident when overwhelmed by a hot flash, so it is helpful to understand what triggers them. Read on to discover the causes of hot flashes to help limit the impact they can have.

Reasons for Hot Flashes

This article explains what hot flashes are and how they are a symptom of menopause. Shows how hormonal imbalances can cause an uncomfortable spike in body temperature. Provides tips on how to avoid these troublesome menopause symptoms and suggests avoiding triggers and making lifestyle changes.

Managing Hot Flashes

A floor fan is a great way to manage hot flashesThankfully, women who experience hot flashes during menopause have several ways to manage hot flashes in order to reduce their frequency and/or severity. In many cases, simple steps can be taken throughout the day to prevent or allay hot flashes. Also, avoiding the common triggers of hot flashes is another important way to combat them.

Simple daily changes that can greatly help a menopausal woman manage hot flashes include:

Considering air conditioning, ceiling and floor fans, and even small personal handheld fans.

Avoiding being rushed, since it can quickly raise the body's temperature and trigger a hot flash.

Keeping ice water or another cold beverage on hand during the day and night.

Taking a cool shower before bed.

Using cotton sheets and avoiding silk or synthetics.

Keeping a cold pack under or near the pillow and turning the pillow often can also help keep a woman cool and minimize hot flashes.

In addition to making these simple changes, avoiding hot flash triggers can significantly help a woman manage hot flashes.

Common Triggers:

Warm environments (i.e., hot weather, saunas)

Heat makers (e.g., fireplaces, hair dryers, heaters)

Stress

Anxiety

Hot and spicy foods and drinks

Smoking cigarettes

Overconsumption of caffeine, alcohol, and sugar

Diet pills

Spicy foods like red peppers are common hot flashes triggers

Making minor daily changes and avoiding triggers can make a huge difference for many menopausal women who are trying to manage hot flashes. While these measures often help to reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes, they are unable to treat the root of the problem, which is a hormonal imbalance.

Click on the following link to read more information on managing hot flashes, or continue reading below to learn more about the treatments for hot flashes.

Managing Thyroid Problems and Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are extremely difficult to deal with. Rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, and increased body temperature can really get in the way of your life. This article explores how thyroid problems and menopause can cause hot flashes. It also described the best ways to handle your symptoms in a healthy and effective way.

Controlling Hot Flashes

This article presents important information about how to control hot flashes, an uncomfortable symptom of menopause. It includes a list of tips on how to prevent hot flashes, such as drinking water, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet. Also, it includes a list of common triggers and different natural treatments.

Hot Flashes Treatments

If the simple management techniques outlined above are not bringing about the desired level of relief and a woman is still suffering from hot flashes, there are other treatment measures that can be followed.

Hot Flash Fighting Health Tips:

Practice slow, diaphragmatic breathing

Eat a balanced diet

Increase Vitamin E intake to 800mg/day.

Increase Vitamin B intake

Increase soy protein intake

Exercise regularly

Consider meditation or yoga

Daily behaviors can have a significant impact on a woman's experience of hot flashes. For example, eating a spicy dinner or having too many glasses of wine with dessert can trigger hot flashes. Increased stress due to work pressure or family obligations can also set a hot flash into motion. Lifestyle adjustments are two-pronged: some strategies focus on avoiding triggers while others concentrate on increasing overall health (some overlap in the two exists, as one would expect).

Alternative remedies like Macafem and Ginkgo Biloba are used to treat hot flashesIt is most logical, as well as safest, to begin with the least invasive lifestyle changes first, and then progress on to other measures if these are not working. Due to the fact that at heart, hot flashes are a hormonal issue, it is most effective to address the problem at the hormonal source. Natural and alternative remedies are a safe and easy way to nip this problem in the bud, particularly in conjunction with lifestyle changes to promote overall health.

In more drastic cases, it may be advisable to seek surgical or pharmaceutical treatments, though surely these are more risky in terms of side effects and should be approached with caution. In addition to hormone replacement therapy (HRT), several other pharmaceutical drugs may be effective hot flash treatment options. These drugs include:

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI)

Blood pressure medications

Mild sedatives

Seizure medications

It is important to keep in mind that while all of these drugs have the potential to assist in hot flash relief, they all carry a risk of side effects, some of which may outweigh any potential benefits. Click on the following link to read and learn more specifics about the different options for the treatment of hot flashes.

Top 3 Foods to Reduce Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

Menopause can bring on extremely intense hot flashes and tiresome night sweats. Foods rich in phytoestrogens, potassium, and vitamin E can give you the energy you need, at a sustainable pace, to calm the nerves and cool the body. Find out which fruit and vegetable makes it to the Top 3.

Best Home Remedies for Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are an uncomfortable, unpredictable, and sometimes scary symptom of menopause. Knowing the things to avoid or embrace during menopause can greatly reduce the duration, frequency, and intensity of your hot flash episodes. Read on to learn how to heal yourself in these fiery moments.

Sources:
  • Sikon, Andrea and Holly Thacker M.D. "Treatment for Menopausal Hot Flashes". Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. July 2004: 71 (7).
  • "Hot flashes ... in January". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2004: 170 (1).
  • Miller, Heather and Rose Maria Li, M.D. "Measuring Hot Flashes: Summary of a National Institutes of Health Workshop". Conference report. Mayo Clinic. June 2004: 79.
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