Going through menopause? Get your facts right
Menopause brings with it a high level of hormonal turmoil in a woman’s body. Hot flashes are the most common symptoms of menopause; stemming from hormonal fluctuations caused during this transition phase. Here are the Top 10 facts related to hot flashes; something every woman should know about and understand.
Fact 1: Hot flashes are not a disease
Hot flashes are not a disease. Instead they are an indication of an underlying hormonal imbalance in the body. Hot flashes are a vasomotor symptom of menopause; one that happens when the vascular system as well as motor system of the body get disturbed due to hormonal upheaval.
Fact 2: Hot flashes symptoms vary from woman to woman
The time, duration, degree of intensity and frequency of occurrence, of hot flashes symptoms vary from one woman to another. While someone may experience hot flashes only during night, someone else may experience them during the day or intermittently anytime. Hot flashes symptoms may begin showing perimenopause and last for years post menopause as well. Some common symptoms of hot flashes are:
- Sudden wave of heat running through the face, arms, neck and torso or through the whole body.
- Flushed or red face as the heat wave sweeps the body
- Increase in palpitation and quickened or irregular heart beat
- Perspiration drops appearing on the fore head
- Cold chills either following the hot flash or without it also.
- Increased migraines, headaches, vomiting.
- General signs of stress, anxiety and depression.
Fact 3: Hot flashes occur in established patterns
|Hot flashes trivia:
50 percent perimenopausal and 75 to 80 percent post menopausal women experience hot flashes.
Hot flashes begin a year or two before the last period.
Hot flashes can continue occurring for anytime between 6 months to 15 years.
Women undergoing breast cancer treatment or those experiencing a rapid menopause are at a greater risk of having prolonged and very severe hot flashes symptoms.
Just as symptoms of menopause are unique to every woman; so are the patterns of these menopause related hot flashes. Every woman experiences hot flashes in consistent, established and unique patterns of symptoms.
Fact 4: Fluctuating Estrogen levels are the root cause of hot flashes
While hormonal imbalances are common during menopause; it is the fluctuating levels of estrogen hormone that is the root cause of hot flashes. When estrogen levels fluctuate or drop; the part of the brain regulating body temperature, sex hormones, hunger and sleep, gets triggered into thinking that the body is getting over heated. This causes the hypothalamus to start the body’s heat loss mechanism, leading to what we know as ‘hot flashes’.
Fact 5: Night sweats and hot flashes are the same
Night sweats are not any different from hot flashes. In fact, hot flashes occurring at night are known as night sweats. The estrogen levels are the lowest at night and therefore, it is common for women to experience night sweats and disrupted sleep cycles as a result.
Fact 6: Hot flashes have triggers
While hormonal imbalances cause hot flashes; they get triggered and aggravated in severity due to certain factors such as: hot and humid climate, use of warm air conditioning, heaters or blowers; spicy food; consumption of tea, coffee etc; smoking cigarettes or consuming alcohol; being under stress or tension; being overworked; being on diet pills, etc.
Fact 7: Certain diseases cause hot flashes
If menopause is unlikely and hormonal imbalances have been ruled out; it is best that a woman experiencing hot flashes should get herself checked for certain diseases known to induce hot flashes. These are: Cancer, diabetes, thyroid disease, panic disorder, obesity and Hyperhidrosis.
Fact 8: Certain medications cause hot flashes
There are some medicines that a woman might be taking that may induce the symptoms of hot flashes. For example: certain medication taken for osteoporosis, certain cancer treatment drugs and some gonadotropin analogues.
Fact 9: Hot flashes can be managed with lifestyle changes
It is possible to manage hot flashes with some lifestyle changes and some daily routine alterations. If triggers are identified, they should be avoided at best to prevent aggravating the severity of hot flashes. Also, staying cool mentally, as well as, physically helps as much as sipping on some cool water throughout the day and taking a cool bath does. Meditating for a peaceful mind and pre-planning to avoid last moment chaos too helps in a big way.
Fact 10: Hormonal Imbalances causing hot flashes need treatment
While lifestyle and dietary changes do provide relief in reducing the severity of symptoms, they do not cure the root cause that is, hormonal imbalances. In order to cure the severe hormonal imbalances one needs medical treatment. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), prescribed pharmaceutical drugs and alternative medicines and remedies are some of the most commonly opted solutions for treatment of hot flashes.
It is important for a woman to understand the causes, identify the triggers and assess the severity of her hot flashes symptoms before opting for a line of treatment; taken under medical supervision.