What Causes A Hot Flash
Hot flashes occur when estrogen levels in the body drop. Estrogen is a hormone that is responsible for the regulation of the reproductive system in people with a uterus.
Falling estrogen levels affect the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls appetite, body temperature, hormones, and sleep patterns. The hypothalamus is sometimes called the bodys thermostat because of the role it plays in regulating body temperature.
A drop in estrogen levels can cause the hypothalamus to get mixed signals. If it senses that the body is too warm, it prompts a chain of events to cool the body down: The blood vessels dilate, blood flow is increased to the surface of the skin, and heart rate may increase as the body tries to cool off. Some people experience a chilled feeling after a hot flash.
Most hot flashes are caused by hormonal changes, but they can also be related to other health conditions, substances, and even certain treatments or medications.
Other things that can cause hot flashes include:
- Thyroid issues
Birth Control Pills For Perimenopause
Another HRT alternative for women on the road to menopause: low-dose birth control pills, believe it or not, are also good for calming dreaded hot flashes and heavy or irregular bleeding.
Perimenopausal women arenât officially in menopause until they have gone 12 months without a period. In the several years leading up to that milestone, a woman ovulates less and can produce less estrogen and progesterone. âWeâre not ovulating as well and our estrogen levels are variable,â says Minkin. âYour hormones look like the Dow Jones industrial average — especially these days: up, down, up, down.â Symptoms fluctuate with the wild hormonal swings, she adds.
Birth control pills or patches âput your ovaries to sleep,â she says. They take over delivering hormones. When estrogen levels are steadied this way, hot flashes and other menopause symptoms often improve, according to Minkin.
Very-low-dose birth control pills are sometimes a better option than hormone therapy because they shut down the ovaries, Minkin explains. In contrast, perimenopausal women on hormone therapy might still have irregular cycles and bleeding.
Q: When Should A Woman Consult A Doctor About Hot Flashes
A: Any women with questions or concerns about hot flashes should consult their physicians. Approximately 10 – 15% of women experience hot flashes severe enough to warrant medical attention.
Women who are not likely entering menopause and those who are experiencing other strange symptoms should talk to a doctor to rule out other causes of hot flashes.
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If HT is not an option, a low dosage of the antidepressant paroxetine , is FDA-approved to help manage VMS. Several other antidepressants are used off-label for management of hot flashes, including venlafaxine , citalopram and escitalopram .
Another therapy for hot flashes in postmenopausal women is hypnosis, which research supports. In addition, research also proves that Cognitive behavior therapy , or talk therapy, is effective for hot flashes.
What Can I Do To Prevent Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis isnt entirely preventable, but you can take steps to strengthen your bones. Eating foods high in calcium like cheese, yogurt, spinach or fortified cereals can help boost calcium intake. Adding a calcium supplement can also help. Some people also need a vitamin D supplement because it helps their body absorb calcium.
Hot Flashes: What Can I Do
Hot flashes, a common symptom of the menopausal transition, are uncomfortable and can last for many years. When they happen at night, hot flashes are called night sweats. Some women find that hot flashes interrupt their daily lives. The earlier in life hot flashes begin, the longer you may experience them. Research has found that African American and Hispanic women get hot flashes for more years than white and Asian women.
You may decide you don’t need to change your lifestyle or investigate treatment options because your symptoms are mild. But, if you are bothered by hot flashes, there are some steps you can take. Try to take note of what triggers your hot flashes and how much they bother you. This can help you make better decisions about managing your symptoms.
Evidence Of Risks And Benefits
Many women reconsidered taking HRT due to recent studies on the long-term use of HRT. The Heart and Estrogen-Progestin Replacement Study found in the first year of HRT there was a 50% increase in heart attack and stroke. But, after two years of HRT, they had a decrease in these diseases.
The Womens Health Initiative performed a larger study. Its the largest study that examined the effects and risks of HRT in menopausal women.
In 2002, the WHI stopped giving women both estrogen and progestin therapy. Data from this group found an increased risk of heart disease, breast cancer, stroke and blood clots in the lungs and legs.
In 2004, they ended the group taking only estrogen because results indicated an increased risk of blood clots, stroke, and heart attack.
Due to these studies, they created new guidelines for prescribing HRT. These include:
- Stopping the use of HRT as a prevention of heart attack or stroke.
- Weigh the pros and cons of using HRT for prevention of osteoporosis
- Women with pre-existing heart disease should think about other options.
- Use in only the short-term for menopausal symptoms.
- Discourage long-term use
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Q: How Long Will I Get Hot Flashes
A: On average, you may be looking at 10-15 years of living with hot flashes. Though they are sporadic, their unpredictability is very frustrating. Lets look at what you can expect:
- 40s: This is when most women start perimenopause. Some hot flashes and night sweats begin.
- 46-53: In the U.S., this is the average age for menopause, which is defined as 12 straight months with no period. Hot flashes tend to be most frequent in the two years after menopause.
- Late 50s: Most women continue to have hot flashes anywhere from 4-10 years after menopause. But most of these will decrease in frequency and severity.
Will Hormone Therapy Help Prevent Long
The benefits and risks of hormone therapy vary depending on a womans age and her individual history. In general, younger women in their 50s tend to get more benefits from hormone therapy as compared to postmenopausal women in their 60s. Women who undergo premature menopause are often treated with hormone therapy until age 50 to avoid the increased risk that comes from the extra years of estrogen loss.
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What Are Hot Flashes A Sign Of Triggers For Hot Flushes
Hot flushes are caused by falling oestrogen levels at menopause. You may notice that they are being triggered by caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol and external heat sources like a hot bath or an overheated room. If so avoid these triggers. For some women, stress and tension cause more frequent hot flushes. And indeed stressing during a hot flush and fanning yourself/taking off layers can make it worse have you noticed?! Women who smoke are more than twice as likely to experience severe hot flushes than women who have never smoked.
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When Do Menopausal Hot Flashes Stop
Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause, and the majority of women will experience at some point. They can be exhausting to have to face because of the increased heart rate and excessive sweating. The worries as to when they will come can disrupt your daily routine can make it difficult for you to be as productive as you can be in your professional and personal life. You may feel stuck in a body that just cant seem you cool down and wonder when it all will end.
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Higher Risk Of Heart Disease
The end of menopause means that your age becomes solid. It causes certain health problems and heart disease is one out of the list of when is menopause over. This problem also derives from low levels of estrogen and so, induces various complications from the part of the cardiovascular system. Commonly, this issue can be averted if you follow a healthy lifestyle. Its vital to consult a specialist in this field to define the necessary preventive measures.
What Other Menopause Symptoms Will I Get Along With Hot Flushes
As mentioned earlier, a fall in oestrogen is the main cause of hot flushes. Falling oestrogen can also cause irregular periods, fatigue, insomnia, early waking and mood swings. These are some of the most common first signs of menopause or perimenopause – please have a read of our article on Perimenopause and 8 Useful Steps to find out what you can do to glide smoothly through perimenopause and menopause!
Read our article Perimenopause and 8 Useful Steps
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How Often Do I Need To See My Doctor After Menopause
You should still see your healthcare provider for routine gynecological care even though you arent menstruating. This includes Pap tests, pelvic exams, breast exams and mammograms. You should continue to schedule annual wellness appointments. Since you are at an increased risk for osteoporosis, providers usually recommend bone density screenings as well. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine how often you should make check-up appointments based on your health history.
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Natural Remedies For Hot Flushes
- Black cohosh may help relieve hot flushes. Do choose a licensed preparation like MenoHerb® there have been occasional cases of serious side effects, including liver damage, with unlicensed versions. And it shouldnt be taken if you have any liver or kidney problems.
- Red clover this remedy seems to have natural oestrogen-like properties and 60-80 mg a day of red clover isoflavone may help with hot flushes. There have been no safety concerns about using it.
- Evening primrose oil although its widely used, there is no evidence that this option helps with symptoms of the menopause.
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What Causes Hot Flashes Other Than Menopause
Cristina Mutchler is an award-winning journalist with more than a decade of experience in national media, specializing in health and wellness content. A multilingual Latina, Cristina’s work has appeared on CNN and its platforms, local news affiliates across the country, and in the promotion of medical journal articles and public health messaging.
Hot flashes are commonly associated with menopause, but they can also be caused by a variety of different lifestyle factors or medical conditions, and they are not always a sign of something serious.
A hot flash is a feeling of sudden intense heat on the upper body lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes or longer. The feeling is often joined by other symptoms like sweating, reddening of the skin, dizziness, and heart palpitations.
While there are other possible causes, hot flashes are extremely common when people are going through perimenopause/menopause.
Hot flashes happen when the bodys internal thermostat senses that its too warm. This starts a chain of events where your heart beats faster, your sweat glands spring into action, and the blood vessels that are near the skins surface widen to cool the body off.
Bioidentical Hormone Therapy For Hot Flashes
There has been increasing interest in recent years in the use of so-called “bioidentical” hormone therapy for perimenopausal women. Bioidentical hormone preparations are medications that contain hormones that have the same chemical formula as those made naturally in the body. The hormones are created in a laboratory by altering compounds derived from naturally-occurring plant products. Some of these so-called bioidentical hormone preparations are U.S. FDA-approved and manufactured by drug companies, while others are made at special pharmacies called compounding pharmacies, which make the preparations on a case-by-case basis for each patient. These individual preparations are not regulated by the FDA, because compounded products are not standardized.
Advocates of bioidentical hormone therapy argue that the products, applied as creams or gels, are absorbed into the body in their active form without the need for “first pass” metabolism in the liver, and that their use may avoid potentially dangerous side effects of synthetic hormones used in conventional hormone therapy. However, studies to establish the long-term safety and effectiveness of these products have not been carried out.
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Treatments For Hot Flushes
Many women learn to live with menopause-related hot flushes, but if they’re really bothering you and interfering with your day-to-day life, talk to a GP about treatments that may help.
The most effective treatment for hot flushes is hormone replacement therapy , which usually completely gets rid of them. Your doctor will talk to you about the benefits and risks of using HRT.
If you have had a type of cancer that’s sensitive to hormones, such as breast cancer, your doctor will not recommend HRT and will talk to you about alternatives.
Other medicines have been shown to help, including some antidepressants and a medicine called clonidine.
Other Prescription Drug Treatments For Hot Flashes
- The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications have been shown be effective in reducing menopausal hot flashes. These drugs are generally used in the treatment of depression and anxiety as well as other condition. Paroxetine is an SSRI approved to treat moderate to severe hot flashes associated with menopause.
- Clonidine is an anti-hypertensive drug that can relieve hot flashes in some women. Clonidine is taken either by pill or skin patch and decreases blood pressure. Side effects of clonidine can include dry mouth, constipation, drowsiness, or difficulty sleeping.
- Gabapentin , a drug primarily used for the treatment of seizures, has also been effective in treating hot flashes.
- Megestrol acetate is a progestin that is sometimes prescribed over a short-term to help relieve hot flashes, but this drug is not usually recommended as a first-line treatment for hot flashes. Serious side effects can occur if the medication is abruptly discontinued. Megestrol may have the side effect of weight gain.
- Medroxyprogesterone acetate is another progestin drug and is administered by injection to treat hot flashes. It may lead to weight gain as well as bone loss.
Some alternative treatments, however, have been evaluated in well-designed clinical trials. Alternative treatments that have been scientifically studied with some research include phytoestrogens , black cohosh, and vitamin E.
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Menopause And Typical Symptoms
Women reach menopause once it’s been 12 months since their last menstruation. “The average age of menopause in the U.S. is fifty-two years,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, director of Mayo Clinic Women’s Health, medical director of The North American Menopause Society and a National Certified Menopause Practitioner . “But anything after the age of forty-five is considered normal, and about ninety-five percent of us have gone through menopause by the age of fifty-five.”
“We know that at least a third of women are going to hot flash moderately to severely for a decade or more.”
The most typical symptoms of menopause are hot flashes and night sweats, also known as Vasomotor symptoms . VMS result from a dysfunction in temperature regulation caused by hormone changes. Additional symptoms include sleep and mood disturbances, vaginal dryness, increased urinary frequency and incontinence, even joint pain, according to Faubion.
Q: Can Hot Flashes Be Treated
A: Yes. Treating the root problem of hormonal imbalance can help to reduce and even stop hot flashes during menopause. Doctors recommend that women begin with the least aggressive approach to treating hot flashes. Fortunately, a number of safe and natural remedies can successfully treat hot flashes.
Q: What Are The Best Ways to Cope with Hot Flashes?
A: Three approaches can be considered for treating hot flashes: lifestyle changes, alternative remedies, and pharmaceutical options. Most experts recommend that women begin with the least aggressive approach and move to the next level of treatment only if symptoms persist. Click on treatments for hot flashes to discover the best route to relief.
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Treatment For Hot Flashes
Hot flashes can be very disturbing for a woman. But there are some ways which can reduce their severity or duration. There are alternative medicines and prescription medicines available to cure hot flashes. For some woman, it works out better to study their hot flashes and resort to self-help measures like abstaining from caffeine, spicy foods and hot beverages.
They should indulge in deep breathing exercises whenever they get hot flashes, lower the thermostat and dress in layers. They should meditate and indulge in stress-busting activities and stay as cool as possible.
Do People In Postmenopause Lose Interest In Sex
No, not all people lose interest in sex after menopause. Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex can make sex less pleasurable. Using a vaginal lubricant can help with dryness. Some people are less interested in sex because of other symptoms like depression or feeling tired. If your feelings about sex have changed, ask your healthcare provider for help.
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Q: What Causes Hot Flashes
A: The exact causes of hot flashes are still unknown, but they are thought to be related to changes in the brains thermoregulatory center, which controls heat production and loss, and is influenced by your hormones. During perimenopause, hormones start acting like a rollercoaster, with progesterone and estrogen levels changing in wide variations. These ups and downs dont settle down until almost 10 years after menopause.