Most women go through menopause between their 40s and 50s. Hormonal changes during this transition can produce uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes. Most symptoms tend to last one to ten years, and then stop after a woman has reached menopause. However, some women have hot flashes at the age of 60, well into their postmenopausal years. They can continue to be disruptive and cause many women to seek advice about treatments.
What Are Hot Flashes
Hot flashes in women over 60 have the same characteristics as the hot flashes that occur during the earlier stages of menopause. They are just referred to as postmenopausal hot flashes. They are sudden feelings of intense heat in the upper body, accompanied by an increased heart rate, flushing of the chest, neck, and face, and sometimes excessive sweating.
The duration of postmenopausal hot flash episodes differs for each woman and can last anywhere between thirty seconds and five minutes. The intensity and frequency of hot flashes also vary, but they tend to lessen with age.
There are three different ways to describe the severity of hot flashes:
Quick hot flashes. They don't interfere with your daily activities.
Mild hot flashes. They are barely noticeable.
Moderate hot flashes. They are more intense and more noticeable, accompanied by excessive sweating.
Severe hot flashes. They are intensely hot episodes, and force women to stop what they are doing to seek immediate relief.
Many factors can be related to hot flashes, and being aware of these can help women reduce the intensity and number of episodes they experience. Keep reading to learn more about the different triggers for hot flashes.
What Causes Hot Flashes during Postmenopause?
The exact cause of hot flashes is unclear, but it is true that the decreased estrogen levels cause the hypothalamus (the area of the brain that controls body temperature) to malfunction and produce a hot flash. The hypothalamus falsely detects an increased internal temperature, and makes the body react quickly to cool it down. The heart rate increases, blood vessels near the skin dilate to release heat and perspiration. As a result, women experience a hot flash episode. Other symptoms that develop with age like dizziness and heart palpitations usually diminish in severity and regularity once hormone levels have settled. However, this is not always the case with hot flashes, and they can persist while becoming more erratic.
What Triggers Hot Flashes?
In addition to hormonal imbalance, hot flashes can be triggered by a number of different factors.
Stress is a common trigger. Try to minimize stress by practicing relaxation techniques. Some foods like caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods can trigger hot flashes. Also, smoking and warm environments can provoke hot flashes. To help manage hot flashes, maintain a healthy lifestyle, wear layered clothing, and avoid using appliances that produce heat like hairdryers. In the meantime, remember to eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly.
How Can I Manage Hot Flashes during Postmenopause?
Hot flashes are closely linked to decreased estrogen levels in a woman's body. To treat hot flashes, it is recommended that you make basic lifestyle changes, such as following a healthier diet and implementing regular exercise regimen. However, because lifestyle changes are not dealing with the root of the problem (hormonal imbalance), many women choose to combine this method with a hormone-balancing treatment such as herbal remedies or hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, you should always talk to your doctor before deciding any treatment. Making lifestyle changes should always be the first treatment option you should try because it is the least invasive and most risk-free.
Hot flashes are the main symptom that sometimes stick around after menopause. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce their severity, frequency, and duration. You should see your doctor for more advice.
Follow this link to find out more about hot flashes treatments.