Hot Flashes - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Hot flashes are when a sudden feeling of warmth that engulfs your face, neck, and chest. This is predominantly more common in women than in men. The leading cause of hot flashes is hormonal imbalances due to menopause, though it can also be induced due to the thyroid, medicinal side effects, etc. 

 

Hot flashes generally give you a flushed appearance and increase your heartbeat, perspiration, and chills. It is more common in women who are obese and smokers. It can cause interrupted sleep, an increase in heartbeat, and bone loss. This can be treated effectively by hormone therapy or by using anti-depressants. Some home remedies to ease your life are; use of ice cold water, cotton clothing, etc.

 

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20 Dec 2021
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Overview on Hot Flashes

Symptoms for hot flashes include the following.

  • Sudden Warmth

This feeling can occur across your chest, neck and face.

  • Flushed Appearance

Your skin can get red and blotchy.

  • Heartbeat

Your heartbeat is suddenly rapid.

  • Perspiration

You begin to sweat, primarily on your upper body.

  • Chills

Once the hot flash lets up, you can experience sudden chills.

  • Anxiety and hot flashes

Hot flashes are often accompanied by feelings of anxiety.

The intensity with which one experiences a hot flash and the frequency with which it occurs varies among women. For some, hot flashes may be mild while for others they may be so intense that they disrupt daily activities. A single episode can range anywhere from one to five minutes.

Most women who report having experienced hot flashes claim that they experience them on a daily basis. It isn’t uncommon for hot flash symptoms to continue on average for over a period of 7 years.

What are the Causes of Hot Flashes?

Hot flashes arise due to the following causes.

1. Menopause

Hot flashes are ordinarily caused by changing hormone levels that occur prior to, during and following menopause. The reasons as to why hormonal changes give rise to hot flashes have not been made clear thus far. That being said, research indicates that hot flashes arise when reduced estrogen levels cause the body’s hypothalamus to become more sensitive to minute changes in body temperature. Once the hypothalamus begins to think your body is too hot, it sets forth a series of events (that constitute a hot flash) in order to cool you down. It is rare for hot flashes to be caused by something other than menopause.

2. Side effects

Certain medications can give rise to hot flashes.

3. Thyroid-related problems

When the thyroid gland produces either too much or too little of the thyroid hormone, it can result in hot flashes.

4. Certain kinds of cancer

Certain forms of cancer can cause one to experience hot flashes.

5. Side effects of cancer treatment

In a bid to treat cancer, you can end up experiencing hot flashes.

Risk factors For Hot Flashes

While menopause is experienced by all women once they reach a certain age, it isn’t necessary for all women to experience hot flashes. The reason as to why certain women suffer from hot flashes while others don’t remains unclear.

Factors that may increase a woman’s risk of experiencing hot flashes are as follows.

  • Smoking

Women who smoke on a regular basis are more likely to experience hot flashes.

  • Obesity

Women that have high body mass indexes (or BMIs) are more likely to experience hot flashes.

  • Race

Studies reveal that your race impacts the likelihood of you experiencing hot flashes. A greater number of black women have reported experiencing hot flashes during menopause in comparison to women belonging to other races. Asian women have reported fewer occurrences of hot flashes.

Diagnosis of Hot Flashes

In order to diagnose hot flashes, doctors take into account the following.

  • Symptoms described

Doctors may ask for a description of the symptoms experienced in order to discern whether hot flashes are occurring.

  • Blood Tests

Doctors may prescribe blood tests in order to see whether a woman is experiencing a menopausal transition which is giving rise to hot flashes.

Complications in Hot Flashes

Complications in hot flashes are as follows.

  • Quality of life

Hot flashes have the potential to impact a woman’s day to day activities and her quality of life.

  • Interrupted sleep

Night sweats are capable of making women wake up from their sleep and over the course of time lead to long-term sleep disruptions.

  • Increased heart disease

Research indicates that women who experience hot flashes have a greater risk of experiencing heart disease in comparison to those that don’t experience hot flashes.

  • Bone loss

Research also indicates that women who experience hot flashes have a greater risk of experiencing bone loss in comparison to those that don’t experience hot flashes.

Hot Flashes Treatment

  • Estrogen

The most effective way of treating the discomfort brought on by hot flashes is to have the hormone estrogen. Consumption of this hormone is not without risks. Provided it is appropriate for the patient and it is begun to be had within 10 years of their last menstrual period or prior to them turning 60, the benefits can outweigh the risks.

  • Antidepressants

Although this medicine for hot flashes isn’t as effective as hormone therapy, it can possibly help reduce hot flashes. Paroxetine (Brisdelle) consumed in low doses is pertinent here. Antidepressants are useful for women who cannot use hormones.

  • Nerve block procedure

This treatment has shown promising results in terms of treating moderate as well as severe hot flashes. That being said, more research is required. It involves an anesthetic being injected into a nerve cluster in the neck.

 

It is recommended to consult with a doctor before going ahead with any of these medicines or treatments.

Home Remedies for Hot Flashes

Natural remedies for hot flashes that have been shown to help some women manage their hot flashes include the following.

  • Layered clothing

By dressing in layers even during cold days, women can adjust their clothing in accordance with how they feel as the day progresses.

  • Ice water

Drinking ice water at the onset of a hot flash can bring relief.

  • Cotton clothing

Wearing clothes made of cotton and sleeping on cotton bed linens can make hot flashes more manageable.

  • Ice pack

Using an ice pack can provide relief from a hot flash.

Here Are Some Tips to Prevent Hot Flashes

Different women have different triggers that give rise to hot flashes. Common triggers include the following.

 

  • Bending over

  • Consumption of caffeine-based products

  • Drinking alcohol

  • Eating spicy foods

  • Feelings of stress and anxiety

  • Smoking or being exposed to cigarette smoke

  • Tight clothing

Once you figure out what your triggers are, you can avoid them in order to prevent hot flashes. While steering clear of these triggers may not get rid of hot flashes entirely, it can at least lower the frequency.

 

At present, there exists no clear treatment that can guarantee the prevention of hot flashes. That being said, there do exist a few options that can help manage symptoms. The main idea that follows is to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes.

 

Treatment may involve lifestyle changes, prescription medication, hormone replacement therapy or alternative treatment. It is best to consult a doctor who can help you decide what the best course of action is to prevent hot flashes from arising.

Conclusion

Always consult a healthcare expert prior to taking estrogen or consuming antidepressants. Natural hot flash remedies ought to be the first course of action taken in order to minimize the intensity and frequency of hot flashes. It is also advisable to prepare for the eventuality of hot flashes by getting yourself a health insurance plan which covers the cost of being afflicted by this condition.

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