Hot Flashes: What Can I Do?

Hot Flashes: What Can I Do?

Hot flashes are one of the commonly experienced symptoms of menopause. 

Studies show that around 75% of the women experience hot flashes starting from perimenopause but the severity and frequency may vary in each woman. However, severe hot flashes that interfere with daily life is found in about 25-30% of the menopausal women. 

According to the US Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), hot flashes and night sweat on average may last for about 7-11 years. 

Let us find out more about hot flashes, its symptoms, diagnosis and treatments. 

What Are Hot Flashes?  

A hot flash is a sudden feeling where your upper body, especially, face, neck and chest get warmer and you may sweat. It may result in your skin become red as if you are blushing. If the hot flash is severe and you lose more body heat, afterwards you may feel cold. 

When a hot flash occurs in the night, it is called night sweat, which may disturb your sleep and wake you up. Night sweats may lead to long-term sleep problems.  

What Are the Symptoms of Hot Flashes? 

Not sure whether you have experienced hot flashes or not? Here is a list of symptoms that may help you understand the feeling of hot flashes: 

  • You experience a sudden warmth across your chest, neck and face.
  • Your skin may become red or flushed rapidly.
  • Your heart beats rapidly. 
  • You may start sweating, especially on your upper body.
  • You may feel sudden chills after hot flashes. 
  • You may feel disquiet and anxiety.

What Are the Causes of Hot Flashes?

Even though certain medical conditions can result in hot flashes, the most common reason is menopause. When the reproductive hormones begin to decline with age, women start experiencing different menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, hair loss, weight gain, forgetfulness and other signs. 

When the oestrogen levels in our bodies drop, it affects the hypothalamus, a part of our brains that is responsible for controlling our body temperature, appetite, sleep cycles and sex hormones. A decrease in oestrogen levels confuse the hypothalamus, and it releases body heat even if minor changes in body temperature are detected.   

Other reasons that may cause hot flashes are: 

  • Certain types of cancer 
  • Side effects of cancer treatment  
  • Side effects of some medications
  • Thyroid problems 

**It is not clear why hot flashes are not reported in all the women going through the menopause. The factors that may increase the chances of getting hot flashes could be: 

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Race/Ethnicity  

Diagnosis and Treatment of Hot Flashes

Based on your experience and symptoms, your doctor can diagnose the sudden warm feelings as hot flashes. Also, your doctor may suggest a few tests to check your hormonal levels and see if you are going through the perimenopause. 

Treatments for Hot Flashes

Hormonal therapy is considered effective in reducing menopausal hot flashes. However, it is best to discuss your symptoms with a doctor and only then choose a mode of treatment. 

Hormonal therapy:

Oestrogen hormone therapy works wonders to increase the low levels of female hormones and reduce hot flashes, night sweats and other menopause symptoms. However, this treatment is not appropriate for all cases. Hormone therapy also carries a risk of developing breast cancer, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, endometrial cancer and other health conditions.  

The dosage is in the smallest amount and the length of treatment varies in each case. Take oestrogen in the form of pills, skin patches, creams, rings, implants or gels.

Alternative Therapy

You can consider alternative therapies to reduce the intensity of hot flashes. These alternatives have elements that mimic or increase the low levels of oestrogen and reduce menopause symptoms. You can take:

  • Soy products
  • Tofu
  • Flaxseeds
  • Black cohosh 
  • Red clover 
  • Ginseng 

You can also try yoga, meditation and acupuncture to get relief from the hot flashes and menopause symptoms.  

Antidepressants

According to the Harvard Medical School, some of the studies have shown that certain antidepressants in low dosage can reduce hot flashes by at least 50% in menopausal women. These medications are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin-norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor (SNRI). 

For severe hot flashes, anti-depressants may not be as effective as hormone replacement therapy, but they can be used in cases where hormonal therapy is not recommended. 

Non-hormonal therapy

Your doctor may also recommend non-hormonal therapy to alleviate hot flashes. In this therapy, dietary supplements are made of natural ingredients that are known to lessen menopause symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats.

Consult with your doctor and you may be recommended products, such as Femarelle. These supplements are made of soy products, flaxseeds, calcium and vitamins B and D. These supplements not only impressively reduce the symptoms but also contribute to your overall health.    

Inference:

Hot flashes are sudden heat feelings that subside eventually without any treatment. If they are severe enough to interfere with your daily life, consider a treatment. Consult with your doctor and discuss all the pros and cons before choosing a treatment. 

Menopause occurs gradually. So, learn all about menopause at the earliest and notice any sign that may need treatment. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, wear comfortable clothes, keep your home temperature low and eat nutritious food to reduce the severity of hot flashes and menopause symptoms.