For many women, hot flashes are an early sign that they are approaching menopause and nearing the end of their reproductive years. Hot flashes can be inconvenient and uncomfortable, but with understanding of their root causes, women can treat them effectively and naturally.
About Hot Flashes and Menopause
Menopausal hot flashes are bursts of intense, quickly-retreating heat that women approaching menopause frequently experience. Around 75 – 85% of American women experience hot flashes during the years preceding and even the years immediately following menopause.
Symptoms of Menopause
Hot flashes may cause the following sensations:
- Flushed skin
- Sudden feeling of intense heat
- Rapid heartbeat
- Sudden, profuse perspiration
Many women also experience night sweats, which are hot flashes that occur during sleep. Night sweats can be characterized by the same symptoms as hot flashes, and many women don't realize that they've experienced one until they wake up suddenly with damp sheets.
Causes of Hot Flashes during Menopause
During the menopause transition, hot flashes are most often due to hormonal causes. However, it is possible that the hot flashes that you are experiencing are not symptomatic of menopause, but of other medical conditions.
The root cause of hot flashes is changing hormone levels and hormone imbalances. During menopause, levels of the hormone estrogen rise and fall inexplicably, leading to the variety of changes that take place during this stage.
Low estrogen levels have a huge impact on the hypothalamus, the region of the brain responsible for regulating body temperature. When estrogen levels fall, the hypothalamus reacts by attempting to regulate body temperature in an erratic and extreme way.
There are other potential causes of hot flashes that are unrelated to menopause. Women who think they may be at risk for any of the following should consult with their doctors:
- Certain medication
- Thyroid disease
- Panic disorders
Managing Hot Flashes during Menopause
Although they can be troublesome, hot flashes during menopause are relatively easy to manage. Incorporating a few key changes into your daily life can bring much-needed relief by reducing the frequency and intensity of hot flashes.
In order to prevent hot flash episodes, women should open windows, turn on a fan or the air conditioning, and drink cool beverages.
Dressing in cool clothing means wearing fabrics that are light and breathable, instead of tight fabrics that suffocate skin and cause sweating. Dressing in layers can also help.
Lifestyle adjustment and medication
Women who want to take control of their hot flash episodes and any other menopause-induced symptoms have many options for treatment. Categorized into three levels of intensity, these are:
- Lifestyle changes
- Alternative medicine
Hot flashes can be uncomfortable and disruptive to your daily schedule. They are typically a result of hormone imbalances during menopause. Targeting hormonal balance as the source of symptoms is the first step toward reducing the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. Explore these options to discover the best treatment plan for you. For more information on hot flashes and how to treat them naturally and effectively, follow the links below.