As many as 75% of Caucasian women experience hot flashes one year before reaching menopause. On average, 85% of these women experience hot flashes for more than one year.
Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. If you've never experienced them, the unexpected and sudden bursts of heat can be overwhelming. Maintaining hormonal balance is the best way to ease the severity of these unwanted episodes.
What Is a Hot Flash?
A hot flash is a sensation of intense heat, sweating, and rapid heartbeat that overwhelms the body. They generally begin with heat in the face or chest and eventually spread to the rest of the body. The experience, duration, and intensity varies from woman to woman.
Researchers have classified the intensity of hot flashes into the following categories:
Mild: Barely noticeable, don’t interfere with daily routine.
Moderate: More intense and noticeable.
Severe: Intense episodes that force women to seek immediate relief.
While there are different severity levels of hot flashes, some women never experience any at all. This is due to the fact that their body has not been thrown off balance by fluctuating hormone levels during menopause.
What Causes Hot Flashes?
Due to a lower level of estrogen during menopause, the area in the brain that regulates body temperature (the hypothalamus) can get “confused”.
Hot flashes primarily occur when estrogen levels decrease, most commonly during menopause. As a result, the hypothalamus falsely detects an increase in body temperature, and the body reacts to cool it down. Blood vessels near the surface of the skin then dilate to release heat and sweat glands open, resulting in a hot flash.
Other factors, such as stress and anxiety, can cause body temperature to rise, often triggering in a hot flash. Stress can cause hormonal imbalance as well. Hot flashes can feel overwhelming and extremely uncomfortable, but there are many ways women can manage them.
How to Manage Hot Flashes
There are several approaches women can take if their hot flashes become unbearable. The most basic method for handling hot flashes is to maintain a healthy body by eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly.
Exercise has proven to improve endurance and mental well-being, contributing to higher tolerance of hot flashes.
Be active. Incorporate a dance class, cycling class, or a daily walk at lunch into your routine. Exercise gets blood evenly flowing throughout your body and improves overall health.
Eat phytoestrogenic foods. Soy, apples, chickpeas, and cherries all contain estrogen-like compounds that can help you regain hormonal balance.
Recognize your triggers. Many women find that spicy foods, hot drinks, or certain situations (like public speaking) can precipitate a hot flash. Identifying your triggers can help you avoid them.
In addition, alternative medicines can be a more direct way to balance hormone levels. For example, herbal remedies like black cohosh can help to restore the balance of estrogen levels and may reduce the frequency of hot flashes. A combination of both is generally the most effective method of managing hot flashes.
Quick tips for a healthy lifestyle:
Nuts, grains, and beans have been recommended as useful dietary tools for controlling hot flashes. Avoiding sources of caffeine and refined sugar, like coffee and pastries, can regulate and facilitate normal activity in the hypothalamus.
While healthy lifestyle choices are critical, hormone balance is central to effectively dealing with hot flashes. The best methods are often those that combine healthy lifestyle approaches and alternative remedies. Click on the following link in order to find the best treatments for hot flashes currently available.