Hot flashes are caused by hormonal imbalances during menopause. Declining estrogen levels in a woman as she approaches middle age can have a direct effect on the hypothalamus – our brains' central thermostat. The hypothalamus is responsible for controlling appetite, sleep cycles, sex hormones and body temperature. When alcohol is consumed, the hypothalamus sends signals to the body which can propel the onset of menopausal hot flashes.
Read on to find out why alcohol and hot flashes are not good together, as well learn whether you have to ban the booze completely or just have more control.
Can I Drink Alcohol If I am Experiencing Hot Flashes?
The quick answer is yes, but it depends if you want to reduce the severity of your hot flashes or not. Alcohol is said to be a major trigger for hot flashes, so it is advised against. It doesn't mean you can't treat yourself occasionally, but you should seriously consider cutting down on the amount you consume.
Hot flashes can vary in length, frequency and severity for each women but no one will disagree that they are extremely uncomfortable and disruptive. If you find yourself breaking into sweats day and night and want to keep it from happening then alcohol, along with spicy food and caffeine, have to be the first indulgences to go.
How will Alcohol Affect my Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes will vary for each woman. It is one of the most common menopausal symptoms and one that can cause disruption to a woman's life however severe they are. Drinking alcohol, of any kind, will mean you are likely to experience hot flashes more regularly, they might last for a longer period of time, and you might suffer more severely with perspiration, flushing and rapid heartbeat.
Drinking alcohol before bed is also more likely to encourage night sweats, the nocturnal cousin of the daytime hot flashes.
Why Does Alcohol Trigger Hot Flashes
Although all researches agree that there is a correlation between alcohol and hot flashes, people still debate about the reasons for it. However, the common thought is that once alcohol is consumed the amount of estrogen in the body significantly rises. Then, once the body has digested the alcohol and it has left the system, the amount of estrogen severely drops. It is this sudden drop in estrogen that is believed to trigger a hot flash episode.
All symptoms during menopause are a result of an imbalance of hormones, so when the hormone balance is disrupted even further, so too are the body's functions. A drop in estrogen confuses the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that controls temperature) and makes it believe that the body is overheating. It then sends out signals to other parts of the body telling them to cool the body down. This is a hot flash.
As well as the change in estrogen, alcohol also increases blood flow to the brain, and when this happens there is a temperature increase which causes chemicals to be released into the blood to dilate the heat- this is likely to trigger a hot flash if one is surfacing.
If you are suffering with hot flashes, and other menopausal symptoms, it is recommended that you cut down on alcohol consumption, to minimize their distressing effects. Making changes to your lifestyle is the least invasive treatment and should be tried before opting for hormonal treatments. To find out about other lifestyle changes and hot flashes treatments available, follow this link.
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