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What Causes Hot Flashes During Menopause

When To See A Doctor

What Causes Hot Flashes? Dr.Berg on Problems Faced During Menopause

There are many different reasons for experiencing hot flashes. While most of them are not serious, you do need to know for sure what is causing them.

If youre having trouble narrowing down the cause of your hot flashes, try keeping track of the episodes. List the details about the outdoor and room temperature at the time that you have one, your diet and activity levels, and any medications that you used. After a few weeks of collecting data, your doctor might be able to help you find a pattern.

Menopause And Excessive Sweating: When Medication Is In Order

Some women find relief with lifestyle changes, but others need more. The most important thing to remember: talk to your doctor and think about all of the possibilities for treatment, says Mary Lake Polan, MD, PhD, adjunct professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University School of Medicine in New York City.

Finding a treatment that works for you is a highly individual thing. âI tell patients to keep trying,â Polan says. Sooner or later youâll find relief from hot flashes and night sweats.

Hormone therapy. Hormone therapy is the most effective way to treat hot flashes, but the Womens Health Initiative study found an increased risk for heart disease, blood clots, and stroke, and an increase in breast cancer when women took oral estrogen and progestin long-term, Omicioli says. The increased heart disease risk was in older women who were 10 or more years postmenopausal, she says.

But thereâs emerging evidence that non-oral forms of estrogen a cream, gel, patch, or ring may have safety advantages in reducing risk of blood clots and stroke, Omicioli says.

The WHI study didnât find an increased risk of breast cancer in women who took estrogen alone, Omicioli says. The study also looked at one dose of oral estrogen and synthetic progestin. âThere may be a lower risk with progesterone vs. synthetic progestin,â she says.

The supplement black cohosh may also help some women reduce hot flashes, although the results of scientific studies have been mixed.

Buyer Beware: Unproven Nonscientific ‘treatments’ For Hot Flashes

You may have heard about black cohosh, DHEA, or soy isoflavones to treat hot flashes. These products are not proven to be effective, and some carry risks such as liver damage.

Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like substances found in some cereals, vegetables, and legumes , and herbs. They may work in the body like a weak form of estrogen, but they have not been consistently shown to be effective in research studies, and their long-term safety is unclear.

Always talk with your doctor before taking any . Currently, it is unknown whether these herbs or other “natural” products are helpful or safe to treat your hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms. The benefits and risks are still being studied.

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Other Causes Of Hot Flashes

While by far the most common, hormonal changes are not the only cause of hot flashes. Certain medical conditions and medications can sometimes cause a person to experience hot flashes. For this reason, women for whom menopause is unlikely or women with other unexplained symptoms should consult a doctor to rule out these other potential causes of hot flashes.

Diseases That Can Cause Hot Flashes

  • Panic disorder

Medications That Can Cause Hot Flashes

  • Raloxifene

How Does Menopause Affect Heart Health

About Hot Flashes during Menopause

People are more likely to develop heart disease after menopause. Lower estrogen levels may be part of the cause. It also could be that other health issues that are more common as people get older. These include gaining weight, becoming less active, and developing high blood pressure or diabetes. You can reduce your risk of these health problems by eating a variety of healthy, nutrient-rich foods. It also helps to stay active and maintain an appropriate weight.

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Add Natural Foods And Supplements To Your Diet

Adding natural foods and supplements to your diet on a long-term basis may help reduce hot flashes and night sweats. Research has been mixed about how effective these supplements are for treating hot flashes and night sweats, but some women have found relief using them.

Because these products may have significant side effects or interact with other medications, you should consult your doctor before taking them.

Here are a few you might want to try:

You can also talk to your doctor about prescription therapies or over-the-counter supplements that can help you find relief. They may suggest:

Treatment Of Hot Flushes

Alternative Herbal Therapies:

Based on current research, black cohosh is most likely to relieve symptoms related to reductions or imbalances in the hormone oestrogen

Black Cohosh

Black cohosh is an herb native to Eastern North America.

Various studies conducted on black cohosh have shown potential benefits for people with menopausal symptoms however evidence of effectiveness is inconclusive.

Black Cohosh may be beneficial for hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, low libido and poor sleep. However, studies suggest positive benefits did not exceed 6 months to 1 year of use.

Due to this and possible side effects on the liver and liver damage, use of Black Cohosh is not recommended long term.

Based on current research, black cohosh is most likely to relieve symptoms related to reductions or imbalances in the hormone estrogen

Red Clover

Red Clover is a plant native to Europe, Western Asia and Northwest Africa. The flower top is the section of the plant that is used to produce medicinal products.

There have been mixed findings on the effectiveness of Red Clover for the treatment of hot flushes, night sweats and breast tenderness. Some research has shown that taking red clover by mouth for up to one year does not reduce these symptoms although some evidence suggests that certain products containing red clover reduces the severity of symptoms but not the frequency.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Oestrogen only hormone therapy

Oestrogen only HRT can come in many forms:

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What Are The Causes Of Hot Flashes Menopause Smoking Obesity And More

Hot flashes are sudden sensations of warmth usually felt on the neck, chest and face. They are common during the night and are often accompanied by visible redness and onset of sweating.

Though hot flashes are prevalent in premenopausal and menopausal women due to low oestrogen levels, men with prostate cancer also experience them for a considerable time. However, hot flashes can occur to anyone due to a plethora of causes, with their lasting period depending on the factor that has triggered them.

According to some studies, hot flashes, one of the vasomotor symptom, are a type of temperature dysfunction that occur mainly due to disruptions in gonadal/sex/reproductive hormones. This is because various hormones and neurotransmitters govern the body temperature, with oestrogen being on the top of the list.

In this article, we will discuss some of the possible causes of hot flashes. Take a look.

Hot Flashes: What You Should Avoid

What medical conditions other than menopause can cause hot flashes?

If a woman is subject to hot flashes, she should avoid hotly-spiced meals, alcohol, nicotine and excessive heat. It is sensible to choose cooler surroundings. It is also important to try to avoid stressful and emotional influences and to keep the brain occupied with something worthwhile.

A certain area in the brain regulates the body temperature, keeping it within 36 to 37 degrees Celsius and this thermostat in the brain is dependent upon the hormonal balance in the pituitary gland and the ovaries.

Diet is important and certain forms of medication and the contraceptive pill can be decisive factors in the frequency and intensity of hot flashes.

Some women choose to take an oestrogen supplement such as HRT to bring the problem under control quickly, but the bad news is that the hot flashes will return with more severity as soon as that drug is discontinued.

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What Are Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens are plant-based substances found in some cereals, vegetables, beans and other legumes, and herbs. They may work in the body like a weak form of estrogen. Researchers are studying whether phytoestrogens can be used to relieve some symptoms of menopause. They are also studying the side effects caused by these substances. Many soy products are good sources of phytoestrogens. These include tofu, tempeh, soymilk, and soy nuts. Some studies indicate that soy supplements may reduce hot flashes after menopause.

However, the results havent been consistent. There is not enough scientific evidence to recommend the use of herbs that contain phytoestrogens to treat symptoms of menopause. This is also true of pills and creams made with these herbs. In addition, not enough is known about the risks of using these products. Herbs and supplements are not regulated like medicines. Some herbs and supplements can be harmful when combined with certain medicines. If youre considering using any natural or herbal products to ease your symptoms, talk to your doctor first.

What Is Perimenopause

Perimenopause has been variously defined, but experts generally agree that it begins with irregular menstrual cycles courtesy of declining ovarian function and ends a year after the last menstrual period.

Perimenopause varies greatly from one woman to the next. The average duration is three to four years, although it can last just a few months or extend as long as a decade. Some women feel buffeted by hot flashes and wiped out by heavy periods many have no bothersome symptoms. Periods may end more or less abruptly for some, while others may menstruate erratically for years. Fortunately, as knowledge about reproductive aging has grown, so have the options for treating some of its more distressing features.

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What Are Hot Flashes

Also called hot flushes, hot flashes often begin with the sensation of heat in the face, chest, or may start elsewhere and spread. There are external signs, such as sweating, and the skin feeling warm to the touch and becoming red.

While some women in menopause never have hot flashes, in the worst case, they can occur multiple times throughout the day. When it is hot outside, or a room is overheated, these symptoms can become exaggerated. They can also lead to night sweats and insomnia.

Hot Flushes And Sweats

Hot Flashes: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Hot flushes and sweats are the most common symptoms of the menopause and can affect three out of every four menopausal women*. Characterised by sudden feelings of heat which seem to come from nowhere and spread upwards through the body, the chest, neck and face, hot flushes and sweats are probably caused by changes in hormone levels which affect the bodys temperature control. Women talked about their experiences of hot flushes and sweats, the effect on their life, and what they did to relieve the symptoms.Hot flushesSome women we talked with had either not had flushes at all, had noticed just occasional mild feelings of warmth lasting seconds, or had simply not been bothered by them. Others, however, had more intense hot flushes which happened throughout the day and night, lasting several minutes or longer and accompanied by sweating, dizziness, light-headedness and heart palpitations. One woman said she had about twenty hot flushes a day another flushed every ten minutes throughout the day .

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Endocrinology Of Hot Flashes

Since HFs occur in the vast majority of women having natural or surgical menopause, estrogens are clearly involved in their etiology. This is consistent with the fact that estrogen therapy virtually eliminates HFs. However, estrogen reduction alone does not explain the occurrence of HFs because there are no relationships between these symptoms and plasma, urinary, or vaginal levels of estrogens, nor are there differences in plasma levels between women with and without HFs . Additionally, clonidine reduces HF frequency but does not change estrogen levels , and prepubertal girls have low estrogen levels but no HFs.

Therefore, estrogen withdrawal is necessary but not sufficient to explain the occurrence of HFs. A temporal relationship was observed between HFs and luteinizing hormone pulses . However, further work demonstrated that women with isolated gonadotropin deficiency had HFs but no LH pulses , and those with hypothalamic amenorrhea had LH pulses but no HFs. Also, HFs occur in women with LH suppression from GnRH compounds , in women with pituitary insufficiency and hypoestrogenism , and in hypophysectomized women, who have no LH pulses .

Subsequently, an opiate system was hypothesized in the etiology of HFs. Lightman showed that an opiate antagonist reduced HF and LH pulse frequencies, although other research failed to replicate these results . Thus, the evidence for opiate involvement in HFs is inconsistent.

Questions To Ask Your Doctor

  • Do my symptoms indicate that I might be going through menopause?
  • My menstrual cycle is irregular. Could it be caused by something other than menopause?
  • Im uncomfortable and/or dont feel well. Is there a way to safely treat my symptoms?
  • Ive heard that soy products or herbal supplements may help. Are these effective? Are they good options for me?
  • Am I a candidate for hormone replacement therapy?
  • What are the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy?
  • Am I at risk for heart disease or osteoporosis?
  • Do I need any tests, such as bone density screening?
  • Now that Im going through menopause, what changes, if any, should I make to my diet and exercise?

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What Causes The Menopause

The menopause is caused by a change in the balance of the body’s sex hormones, which occurs as you get older.

It happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.

Premature or early menopause can occur at any age, and in many cases there’s no clear cause.

Sometimes it’s caused by a treatment such as surgery to remove the ovaries , some breast cancer treatments, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or it can be brought on by an underlying condition, such as Down’s syndrome or Addison’s disease.

Page last reviewed: 29 August 2018 Next review due: 29 August 2021

The Effect Of A Sedentary Lifestyle

Menopause Symptoms: Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are a source of discomfort, but research has also shown that hot flashes and night sweats are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Thats yet another reason why its so important to find ways to alleviate hot flashes for people during menopause.

For the new study, which was presented at the North American Menopause Society Annual Meeting in September, researchers wanted to investigate whether lifestyle factors, including activity levels, had an effect on the incidence of hot flashes throughout the menopausal transition.

To find out, the researchers evaluated 13 premenopausal, 29 perimenopausal, and 24 postmenopausal women who were 45 to 55 years old. The researchers asked the women about their experiences with hot flashes and measured their daily physical activity levels.

The study found a link between the amount of time that the women were sedentary and the frequency of their hot flashes. Specifically, participating in approximately 3.3 additional hours of sedentary behavior increased the occurrence of hot flashes by 1 nighttime hot flash in a 24-hour cycle.

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What Other Life Changes Affect Menopause

Menopause can be a rough time. In addition to the symptoms that may be tough to deal with, a lot of stressful life changes can happen around the same time as perimenopause and menopause.

Some changes you may go through during this time in your life include:

  • anxiety about illness, aging, and death

  • anxiety about the future, getting older, and losing independence

  • anxiety about being disabled

  • changes in family, social, and personal relationships

  • changes in identity or body image

  • children leaving home

  • getting divorced or losing a partner

  • having a partner become ill or disabled

  • more responsibility for grandchildren

Which Type Of Doctor Treats Hot Flashes

Many women will consult their gynecologist for the management of hot flashes associated with approaching menopause. Hot flashes are also treated by primary care providers, including internists and family practitioners. Hot flashes related to uncommon conditions, serious infections, or cancers are treated by the specialists treating the underlying condition.

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How Can You Deal With Hot Flushes

There are some things you can do to help manage hot flushes yourself. Try these tips to stay cool, calm and collected.

Avoid triggers. Although hot flushes can be unpredictable, you might find theyre worse after drinking alcohol or caffeine, after eating spicy food or when youre stressed, for example. Try keeping a diary for a few weeks to see whether you notice a link or trigger.

Dress lightly. Wearing lighter clothing made of natural, breathable fabrics, such as cotton, silk or soft wool, might help you to keep cool. Go for looser styles rather than tighter ones. During the colder months, wear a few light layers so you can easily take clothes off when you feel a hot flush coming on.

Layer your bed linen. The same principle applies at bedtime. Try to keep your room cool. Rather than using one heavy duvet, try layering a few light blankets and sheets made from natural fabrics. Sheets made with 100% cotton are usually cool and comfortable.

Use a fan. Keep a fan in your bedroom and on your desk for times when you need to cool down. You can also carry a battery-powered mini-fan in your bag, or go for vintage glamour with a traditional hand-held fan.

Carry a cooling spray. Keep a small spray bottle in your bag, on your desk or close to hand when youre at home. Fill it with water and give yourself a little spritz to cool down during a hot flush.

Take a lukewarm shower. When you take a shower, aim for a temperature thats a happy medium rather than too hot.


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