Hot Flash causes in Menopause include some of the very common lifestyle and dietary habits that you have come to build over time! These regular acts often slowly push your health to the brink. And it hurts the most when your body is either weak or going through a transition phase as in Menopause.
Hot Flash symptoms affect nearly 80% of menopausal women. In fact, Hot Flashes are considered to be the cardinal symptoms of women undergoing Menopause. Usually, hot flashes start to increase in frequency and intensity during later years of perimenopause.
What are Hot Flashes? What does a Hot Flash feel like?
Hot flashes are episodic sensations of heat, intense sweating, and flushing affecting the face and chest. A hot flash feels like a wave of warmth is passing all over the body. It leads to a highly uncomfortable feeling of unbearable heat and restlessness.
And soon, the brain recognizes this heat and fires off the cooling system of the body. This leads to excessive sweating and flushing of the body, resulting in redness around face and neck portions.
Usually, the frequency and intensity of the symptoms vary from individual to individual. Irrespective of other factors, hot flushes lead to a highly uncomfortable and often stressful condition for women. It often disrupts the daily life and poorly affects the energy levels, quality of sleep, and sexuality in the long term.
What are Hot Flashes Symptoms? How do I know if I’m having a hot flash?
Following steps list down a typical sequence of the symptoms faced by anyone who is experiencing a hot flash:
- The intense heat in the upper body including the upper arms, face, neck, and chest
- Flushing of the skin follows
- Profuse Sweating
- Followed by chills
- Hot flash symptoms are often accompanied by tingling in fingers, palpitations, and anxiety
How does your brain control your body temperature?
The thermoregulatory zone in the hypothalamus section of the brain tightly controls our core body temperature. Temperature regulation happens through a series of actions that result in heat release or heat generation.
When the body’s core temperature increases above the upper threshold of the thermoregulatory zone, sweating/perspiration occurs, which allows your body to cool down.
What happens to your body when you have a Hot Flash?
A typical hot flash wave can be explained in three steps as listed below:
Step 1: Heat wave is triggered due to food, emotions, or environmental factors
A Hot Flash may be triggered by simple daily stuff such as spicy food, hot weather, or stress. Hot Flash triggers often tend to increase our body temperature. As the brain is not able to regulate the body temperature in time, patients often observe intense feeling of heat.
Step 2: Flushing and Sweating to cool the body down
The delayed action of brain shoots the body temperature. It brings the body temperature back to normal by increasing blood circulation and causing perspiration. If this action doesn’t go well, patients may experience palpitations and severe anxiety.
Step 3: Chills and Excessive Sweating
It usually happens in severe cases of circulatory malfunction such that your brain and body are highly disconnected.
When the brain sends too many signals to cool off the body, it may go down much below the targeted temperature. This can lead to excessive sweating and chills.
How long does a Hot Flash last?
Each particular episode of hot flash may last for few seconds or up to 10 minutes or more. Usually hot flash episodes recur with varying frequency.
For some women, hot flash events may occur only a few times in a week. While others may experience hot flushes or night sweats hourly or daily, with numbers going til 40 a day.
What are Night Sweats?
When hot flushes occur in the night, it is termed as Night Sweats and is associated with marked perspiration. The level of discomfort is high and it often disturbs the sleep of women, who may have already been struggling with insomnia.
Night sweats, when they do occur, are almost always associated with day-time observance of hot flashes.
What causes Hot Flashes?
Anything that hampers the functioning of brain and body in controlling the core temperature can result in a feeling of excessive heat or coldness.
The root cause of hot flashes is poor circulation! A malfunctioning circulatory system disrupts both:
- The flow of energy through the body
- The flow of neural signals from brain to the body and vice-versa
In short, poor circulation hampers body temperature control by the brain. This leads to frequent violations of body core temperature zone. Hence, it causes episodes of perspiration and chills or hot flushes.
This leads to a vicious circle that causes:
- Poor heat dissipation leading to a general feeling of heat, even when others around you are comfortable
- Irregular heat dissipation from the body. This leads to typical hot flash symptoms, which often get triggered by food, emotions, or environment.
What Causes Poor Circulation in Menopause?
Usually, aging slows down our circulatory function. Additionally, when your body channels are blocked due to toxin build up, it further hampers our body’s circulation. This is what happens during perimenopause!
A woman undergoes physical, mental, and hormonal transition during menopause. It makes her vulnerable to health imbalances related to nutritional deficiencies, poor circulation, and poor digestion.
Hence, she needs support through a nourishing diet, optimal level of physical activity, and mental balance. In absence of which, she experiences functional symptoms and hot flashes being one of such menopause symptoms.
What are the triggers of Hot Flashes?
Hot Flash triggers usually involve factors that tend to suddenly change our body’s core temperature. It can be in the form of food, environmental factors such as heat, or emotional factors such as stress.
On top of this, if one is experiencing hormonal imbalances such as insulin resistance, it will further aggravate the condition. Here are some triggers to Hot Flashes:
- Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels often trigger Hot Flashes or Night Sweats. This is primarily rooted in insulin resistance. As most of the episodes of hypoglycemia happen in the night, one is prone to Night Sweats.
- A hot flash can be triggered during an adrenal rush, which is caused by an emotional rush such as fear, anxiety, anger, or embarrassment.
- Constriction of heat flow from the body due to an un-ventilated and warm set-up.
- Tight clothing also leads to poor circulation and triggers hot flashes.
- Certain foods such as Spicy foods and Sour tasting foods.
- Stress caused by mental or physical factors can also lead to hot flashes in males and females.
- Smoking aggravates the symptoms and increases the frequency of hot flashes.
What can cause hot flashes other than menopause?
Hot flashes can be experienced in multiple other cases as listed below. Usually, the severity of the symptoms vary with individual and health condition.
- Hyperthyroidism patients may also suffer from frequent hot flashes.
- Hot flashes may happen in pregnancy as well, specifically in the first and second trimesters.
- Certain medications such as androgen deprivation therapy in males or Lupron for infertility treatment can also trigger hot flash symptoms
At what age do hot flashes start?
Hot Flash symptoms typically start during the perimenopause phase, which is 5 – 6 years before menopause. Usually women in their early to mid 40s may start to experience the vasomotor symptoms such as heat sensations, hot flushes, or night sweats. For some who experience early menopause, the hot flash symptoms may even be visible in their late 30s.
Hot Flashes during Menstruation
A minority of women develop the symptoms even during regular menstrual cycles. Similar to the variability in the frequency of this symptom, the age at onset of symptoms also varies in females.
Hot Flashes in Cancer Survivors
Hot flash symptoms affect 40 – 85% of all women, being more frequent and severe in breast cancer survivors and women with chemotherapy-induced ovarian failure. This is because these women receive multiple treatment options that can induce an estrogen deprivation state.
Hot Flashes in Men
For men, the phenomenon of hot flash often occurs as a result of medical or surgical treatment for prostate cancer. Up to 75% of men treated with androgen deprivation therapy may experience hot flashes.
When do Hot Flashes end?
Vasomotor symptoms of hot flushes and night sweats do not just occur during the perimenopause phase. If left untreated, the symptoms may last up until 10 years or more post-menopause. The majority of the women suffer from hot flash symptoms for 1 – 2 years. However, approximately 15% may have persistent symptoms for up to 30 years.
Hence, it is important to find relief through natural measures, remove the causes and triggers, and get appropriate treatment.
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