Hot flashes in menopause

Around 75% of all women experience hot flashes. Usually, hot flashes start before their last period, and 80% of the women get them for the next two years or less. Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause and premenopause. Hot flashes start for most women in their 40’s.

It’s a feeling of heat not due to any external factor and sometimes red, flushed face and sweating. Hot flashes are common in menopause. Hence, let’s understand hot flashes in menopause.

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Are you getting hot flashes?

You may feel the heat and redness due to multiple reasons, but if those are hot flashes, then they would bring along:

  • Sweating, majorly in the upper body
  • Tingling in your fingers
  • Increased heart rate
  • Might feel redness on your neck, ears, face or chest
  • It might feel chillis as it goes away

Hot flashes might stay from a few seconds to up to 10 minutes, but it lasts for 4 minutes on average. The frequency of the hot flashes might range from 1 per week to multiple times per day depending upon the stage you are in of menopause.

What is the reason for hot flashes?

Hormonal changes in the body lead to hot flashes. As per research, obesity and metabolic syndrome might increase the frequency and chances.

Fluctuation in the estrogen level directly impacts the hypothalamusHypothalamus is the part of the brain which controls the body temperature. It misunderstands lowered estrogen level as increased body temperature. Hence, maintaining and lowering the body temperature causes flushing, sweating leading to hot flashes.

They start when blood vessels near the skin’s surface widen to cool off, making you break out in a sweat.

Reasons for hot flashes apart from menopause:

  • Panic disorders
  • Obesity
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiational Therapy
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Thyroid diseases
  • Infection

There are a few things that might trigger the hot flash:

  • Consumption of alcohol and caffeine products
  • Eating hot and spicy food
  • Avoid smoking or second-hand smoking (intake of the smoke of cigarettes)
  • Getting stressed or anxious

Probably if you’ll notice the things you eat and what type of cloth material you wear or the timings of the day, after a few days you will be able to find some pattern that might help you control.

Why do hot flashes get worse at night?

Not everyone but a few individuals feels that their hot flashes worsen at night than in the daytime. There is no scientific reason for it, but there can be factors that might make it worse:

hot flashes at night
  • In the daytime, when you are awake, you realize when it is about to start, and you get time to cool it down, but during sleep, you’ll realize most probably after you’ll be drenched with sweat and would be feeling hot.
  • If you get in bed worrying about something, it might trigger a hot flash.
  • If you are sleeping in a hot room and under warm bedding, it might increase your body temperature. Hence, in winters, prefer taking natural wool bedding as wool would help you regulate your body’s temperature.

How to stop hot flashes

Ways to put these hot flashes to an end are:

  • Try to dress in layers in winters so that even if you feel hot, you can take them off.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol, smoking cigarettes and eating spicy food if you’re already feeling hot.
  • According to a few women, mind-body therapies like slow breathing, mindfulness meditation and stress management techniques work well.
  • Exercise often.
  • Eat balanced and control portion size.
  • If you are obese, reducing weight might help you reduce hot flashes.
  • Acupuncture might reduce the frequency and the severity of hot flashes.
  • The North American Menopause Society recommends cognitive behavioural therapy, also known as CBT, as an effective way to treat hot flashes. CBT is a psychotherapeutic treatment that helps you identify and accordingly change your thought pattern, which influences the negative side.
  • HRT (Hormone Replacement Theory)is one way to stop hot flashes, but it might start emerging again once you stop the therapy. It might save you from other symptoms like vaginal dryness and mood disorders until you are taking therapy.
  • Low dose depression pills like Rapiflux, Paxil, and Pexava might help.

How to quick stop hot flashes:

  • Sipping ice water at the beginning of the hot flash.
  • Wearing layers even on the coldest days so that you have the freedom to take them off anytime.
  • Wear cotton clothes and use cotton bed linens.
  • Keep an ice pack near your bed.

There are a few oils that have helped many women through this journey:

  • Black cohosh oil
  • Red clover oil
  • Dong Quai oil
  • Evening primrose oil
  • Soy oil

Every oil comes with some advantages and drawbacks. Hence, consult with a doctor before using any of these oils.

Conclusion

There is no fixed procedure for hot flashes, but doctors’ consultations should reduce the frequency and intensity if taken care of well.