menopause-hot-flashes

Hot Flashes: Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

Do you suffer from hot flashes that cause sweating and heating of the skin? It is a condition that can make you feel uncomfortable. The sudden feeling of warmth can affect your upper body like face, neck as well as chest. Some people may feel their skin reddening. So, people may think you are blushing. The condition makes you lose your body heat. Therefore, you will feel chilled afterward. In some people, the condition may only cause a minor issue. So, they go on with their lives normally. But, some people suffer severe complications that interrupt the regular lifestyle. In most cases, the problem affects women due to menopause or perimenopause condition. But, it is not a problem that just affects women as men can also suffer from the issue.

Also known as vasomotor or hot flushes, the condition can affect at night time leading to night sweats. So, you need treatment to handle the condition and prevent it from affecting your life. In most cases, avoiding the trigger can do the trick. Others need an effective management tool to deal with the issue. Read ahead to know about it in the deal.

What Are Hot Flashes?

hot flashesHot flashes often drench you in sweat due to the quick burst of hotness in your skin. It can last from thirty seconds to five minutes. The condition can make your neck and face turn red. It can also make your heartbeat increase. Excessive sweating is another problem accompanying the condition. So, you may think it resembles night sweats. Both conditions are the same. The only difference is with night sweats you jolt awake from your sleep due to extreme heat and sweating sensation consuming the body.

Hot flushes occur mainly due to hormonal changes in your body. But, other medical conditions can also cause them. The imbalance in the hormones can negatively affect your body. Vasomotor is one of the common problems. In women, it occurs due to irregular menstrual periods and premenopausal or menopausal conditions.

Symptoms Of Hot Flashes

The condition can vary from one person to another. The symptoms can affect you for a few hours to several weeks. The symptoms associated with the condition are:

  • The sudden feeling of warmth spreading through the upper part of your body and face
  • Your face has flushed appearance with red and blotchy skin
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Excess sweating (especially on your upper body)
  • You experience chilled feeling once hot flush eases

The condition can vary in frequency as well as intensity. A person can experience symptoms for a short time or for a long time (more than seven years). Some women have experienced the condition for than ten years. If the condition becomes bothersome, then you need to see a medical professional. You need treatment for managing the condition and prevent it from affecting your regular life.

Causes Of Hot Flashes

It is not exactly clear what causes the condition. Vasomotor can occur due to several factors. Different studies indicate that the changes in hormones, especially reproductive hormones can result in the condition. While estrogen can cause the problem in women, testosterone is the culprit in men experiencing the signs. The change in the thermostat of your body (hypothalamus) can lead to the problems. It becomes more sensitive to the minute changes in your body temperature. The different triggers can cause hormonal changes in your body. The potential triggers causing hot flashes include:

  • Spicy foods
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Hot drinks
  • Staying in a warm room
  • Wearing tight clothing
  • Smoking
  • Undergoing chemotherapy
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Pregnancy (especially during the first and send trimesters)
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Spinal lesions
  • Using certain medications (for example, tamoxifen, raloxifene, and tramadol)

Several factors can affect people differently. So, you need to note the changes happening in your body. If you experience vasomotor due to certain triggers, note it down. In the future, try to avoid the trigger. If you experience excessive sweating and a feeling of warmth that does not go away, then see a doctor immediately.

Risk Factors Associated With Hot Flashes

Some women face more risk of the problem compared to others. The risk factors that increase your probability of experiencing the condition are:

Obesity

People with excess body weight can experience an uncomfortable feeling. The extra fat accumulated in your body can act as insulation. The insulation makes it difficult for the proper heat distribution in the body. So, it results in hot flashes.

Metabolic Syndrome

People suffering from metabolic syndrome like insulin resistance can cause hot flushes. The condition can cause hormonal imbalance leading to the condition.

Some people have mild symptoms. So, they consider them as minor annoyance or barely notice it. People suffering from severe symptoms need management to deal with it. Else, it affects your body in a rather negative way.

Complications Due To Hot Flashes

Without any management tools, you can experience night sweats. So, hot flushes can extend into the night and cause nighttime hot flashes. So, it can wake you up from the sleep. The condition can result in the following:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Chronic insomnia
  • Hot flushes can result in other health problems like:
  • Heart disease
  • Bone loss

So, it is important to get treatment to manage the symptoms. The severe cases of the problem need medical aid to handle it properly.

Diagnosis Of Hot Flashes

In most cases, your doctor detects the condition by the description of the symptoms you suffer. You need to undergo blood tests to check if you are approaching the menopausal phase. It is the only test used to determine the problem.

Treatment Options Available For Hot Flashes

The treatment option suggested for you depends on the severity of the condition. If the hot flushes cause no problem to your regular lifestyle, then you may not need any treatment. It can subside itself after a few years. Some women have experienced a gradual decrease in the signs associated with the problem over several years and ultimately it stops. If the feeling of heat and extreme sweating affects your life, then you need treatment. But, the treatment options suggested for the condition can trigger some side effects. Therefore, you need to talk to your doctor about the pros and cons associated with each treatment method. The different treatment options available are:

Hormone Therapy

In most cases, women suffer from vasomotor due to estrogen hormone deficiency. Women who have undergone hysterectomy can take estrogen hormone alone to treat the condition. But, women who still have a uterus need to take the combination of estrogen and progesterone. It will protect the lining of the uterus (endometrium) from cancer. You need to consult the doctor to get customized treatment based on your needs and condition. Your doctor follows the guidelines while undergoing hormone therapy. The smallest dose is provided for symptom control. The duration of the treatment depends on the benefits you experience and the risk you suffer due to the therapy.

Hormone Therapy

The main goal of hormone therapy is to optimize the quality of the affected person’s life. So, your doctor can suggest a combination of drugs (conjugated estrogens with bazedoxifene) to treat the symptoms of hot flushes. The combination of drugs will not increase your chances of getting uterine cancer. Your doctor suggests the combination of medication as it will not affect your bones.

Hormone therapy using estrogen is not a good option for people who have had breast cancer or blood clot. Estrogen therapy carries great risk even though it can effectively offer relief from discomforts of hot flushes. In most cases, your doctor suggests the treatment after carefully assessing your symptoms. It is mostly started before the age of sixty or within ten years of your last menstrual period. In such cases, the benefits outweigh the risks.

Antidepressants

Your doctor can suggest a low dose form of paroxetine. Non-hormone treatment is highly effective for managing vasomotor symptoms. Your doctor can also suggest medications like

  • Paroxetine
  • Venlafaxine
  • Fluoxetine

The medication is not as effective as hormone therapy for severe cases of vasomotor. But, your doctor suggests the medication when you cannot use hormones. Know about the side effects like weight gain, nausea, dry mouth, dizziness or sexual dysfunction before using the medication.

Other Prescription Medications

Your doctor can suggest other medication that can offer some relief from the symptoms associated with vasomotor. The doctor can prescribe the following:

Anti-Seizure Medications

Your doctor can suggest taking Gabapentin. It is an anti-seizure medication to reduce hot flushes effectively. But, the medication can trigger side effects like dizziness, drowsiness, and headache.

High Blood Pressure Medication

Medication like Clonidine can treat high blood pressure. It is available in pill or patch form to provide relief from hot flashes. But, it can trigger side effects like dry mouth, dizziness, constipation. So, talk to your doctor before using it.

Nerve Block Procedure

Your doctor can suggest a procedure called a stellate ganglion block. It has shown promising results in treating moderate to severe cases of vasomotor. But, the procedure still requires more research to know its effectiveness. The procedure requires injecting an anesthetic into your nerve cluster present in your neck. It is usually good for pain management. But, the problem can have side effect like bruising and pain at the injection site.

Natural Remedies For Hot Flashes

Some people prefer to use natural remedies to manage hot flushes. The alternative remedies can offer relief to some people. No evidence suggests that alternative therapies are 100% effective. The results vary from one person to another. It is better to talk to your doctor before undergoing alternative therapies. Some methods can interfere with your already existing medical condition can cause further problems.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture

A study conducted in 2016 suggests that acupuncture offers relief to menopausal women who suffer extreme discomfort due to the symptoms four or more times a day. The study revealed acupuncture can manage symptoms like night sweating and hot flushes. The complementary medical practice uses needles that penetrate deep into your skin to stimulate certain points in the body. So, it can effectively prevent vasomotor.

Herbs And Supplements

You can find many drugstores carrying herbs and supplements that are touted to relieve extreme symptoms of menopause. But, you have no conclusive evidence suggesting the effectiveness. You need to talk to your doctor before taking such supplements. Some of the supplements or herbs can worsen your already existing condition or interfere with the medication you take.

Black Cohosh

Black Cohosh

The herb can help manage the imbalances or a reduction of estrogen hormone in your body. So, you can get relief from the uncomfortable signs of hot flushes. But, people with liver disease must never use the herbs as it can adversely affect your health.

Dong Quai

Some people take the herbal supplement to combat the ill-effects of hot flushes. But, it requires further studies to get conclusive evidence to determine the effectiveness of the herb. People taking blood thinner medication must avoid using the herb.

Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil is another alternative herbal therapy to combat vasomotor, but, the alternative herbal supplement can interfere with blood thinner as well as medications used by psychiatric patients.

Soy Isoflavones

Soy Isoflavones

It is the group of plant-based chemicals also known as phytoestrogens. The chemical can act like a weaker form of estrogen in your body. Soy has two main isoflavones known as daidzein and genistein. So, when you eat soy, the gut bacteria can break into its active forms. So, you can get relief from the discomforts of vasomotor.

You must consult your doctor before using any of the natural remedies. It will help you understand the positives and negatives of each supplement. So, you can choose the best one that will offer more effective results.

Preventing Hot Flashes

You cannot avoid the sudden fleeing of discomfort due to menopause. But, it is possible to prevent the condition caused due to other underlying causes. So, you need to stay away from the triggers leading to the problem.

Avoid Stress

Physical or emotional stress can result in vasomotor. Your body can react to excess pressure by releasing epinephrine. Epinephrine also referred to as adrenaline can increase your blood flow. As a result, you can experience an increase in body temperature. So, you can experience discomfort and excess sweat. You need to try some relaxation techniques to control stress.

Limit Caffeine

Do you drink coffee or take drinks that contain caffeine? Then, it is the culprit in triggering the uneasy feeling. You can feel sudden warmth. The condition is also common in postmenopausal women. So, limit drinking the following:

  • Soda
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Alcohol

Alcohol is bad for your health. It is an intoxicating beverage triggering serious side effects. You can experience both short-term as well as long-term adverse effects due to alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol can also disturb the balance of hormones in your body. Alcohol can cause hot flashes in two ways. One is when the effects of the alcohol wear off, the person drinking it can feel the warmth and sweat as a part of the hangover experience. It can also affect your endocrine system, which balances your hormones in the body.

Spicy Foods

Eating food high on the heat scale can trigger several signs like sweating, flushing, etc. So, try to limit spicy food intake.

Tight clothing

Dressing in tight clothes can restrict blood circulation. The tight clothing can cause dilation of the blood vessels that are located near the surface of your skin. The circulatory changes can result in sweating, flushing, and heat. So, you need to dress in loose layers of clothes to avoid the problem.

Cigarette Smoke

People smoking can face several health issues. Cigarette smoke can also lead to higher androstenedione levels. So, people who smoke regularly can experience flushing.

Try To Stay Cool

You need to take measures to keep yourself cool at night. So, take the following steps to ensure you do not experience night sweats or flushing.

  • Keep your bedroom cool
  • You a pillow filled with cooling material or water (chill pillow)
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing made from natural fibers like cotton
  • Use fan in your room

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises can help you deal with unexpected sweating and flushing. Try slow, deep abdominal breathing (at least six to eight per minute). You need to practice deep breathing for at least fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes in the evening. You can also try breathing exercises when your hot flash starts.

Exercise Daily

You prevent hot flushes by including exercises in your daily routine. So, you can include the following exercises like:

  • Bicycling
  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Dancing

Daily exercises can improve blood circulation and prevent dilation that can lead to sweating and feeling hot.

Include Plant Estrogen In Diet

You can reduce estrogen-like effects in your body by adding plant estrogens in your diet. It can reduce hot flushes effectively, but, before adding the products in your diet, talk to your doctor about it. If your doctor gives you the green light, then add the following in your diet:

  • Edamame
  • Tofu

The use of herbs and botanicals are advised by many. But, you never know how the herbs can change the working of other medication. So, people taking medicines for other health condition need to talk to your doctor before taking any products.

Eat Well-Balanced Diet

The way you live your life can impact the body. It also has a direct impact on the medication and supplements you take. A healthy lifestyle can reduce the incidence of hot flashes. It can also reduce the severity of the condition. So, try to include a well-balanced diet. It can reduce the risk of heart problem and other health issues.

The preventive measures suggested above can offer protection from hot flushes to a certain extent. Since no two persons are alike, the methods may work differently. It is important to determine the one that works perfectly for you. You need to talk to your doctor when none of the methods work for you.

Conclusion

Hot flashes can cause severe discomfort. You will find it difficult to sleep properly. The lack of sleep can cause several adverse effects on your body. So, get an appointment with your doctor to get the ideal treatment. But, no two people are alike. So, one treatment may not provide the same effect on two people. You need to work with your doctor to find the ideal tool helpful in managing the condition. If any triggers cause the condition, then you need to take steps to avoid it. At times, you will feel the condition has no cure. But, you can manage the problem by following the right steps.

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