Menopause has a large number of uncomfortable and distressing symptoms. Unfortunately, this is an inevitable stage of a woman’s life, so the likelihood of experiencing some of them is high. Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms, affecting half of all women during perimenopause, and continuing to affect 75 to 85% of women after menopause, a period known as postmenopause.
The severity of hot flashes varies between women, as does the duration and frequency of episodes, but the symptoms are usually the same, of which nausea is one. Read on to have your questions answered.
Is Nausea a Symptom of Hot Flashes?
Yes, nausea is a symptom of hot flashes, although it isn't a primary symptom, so might not be experienced by all women. The main symptoms of hot flashes include intense feelings of heat, rapid heartbeat, flushing of the face and neck, perspiration and cold chills, which usually follow the hot flash. Some women will experience nausea, dizziness, anxiety, and headaches.
Why Am I Experiencing Nausea Following a Hot Flash?
All symptoms of menopause are caused by a change in hormone levels. As the body prepares for the transition between regular menstrual cycles and a cessation of the menstrual cycle, the production of hormones becomes extremely erratic. When there is a withdrawal of estrogen in the body, there is a decrease in the circulation of endorphins. These changes have a direct effect on the hypothalamus in the brain and there is an increase in serotonin release and a drop in the thermoregulatory set point (part of the brain that regulates temperature). This causes the hypothalamus to think that the body needs heating and heat loss mechanisms are triggered, provoking a hot flash.
Nausea can occur because of the change in serotonin levels in the brain and the general disturbance of hormones, which can stimulate the vomiting center in the brain. Nausea is always induced in the brain and will always be caused because of a disturbance to this vomiting center. This is found in the same part of the brain as the temperature regulator. You are also likely to feel more nauseous because your body is overheating.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Stop Hot Flashes and Nausea?
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce hot flashes and nausea: by taking steps to rebalance your hormones. Making lifestyle changes should be the first step you take because it is the least invasive and risky below is a summary of lifestyle changes that can impact positively on the balance of your natural hormones:
Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, and increase soy consumption
Increase intake of vitamins E and B
Practice slow, diaphragmatic breathing
Exercise for at least half an hour each day
Take up yoga class, or consider meditation for stress relief
Avoid triggers of hot flashes including spicy foods, hot environments, caffeine, and constrictive clothing
Lifestyle changes do require a lot of self-restraint and persistence, though they are worth trying and are beneficial for many women. However, if you continue to suffer from hot flashes and nausea, talk to your doctor. There are alternative treatments for hot flashes, which must be discussed fully with a doctor before being considered.