Hot Flash Causes during Menopause and Solutions
I’ll bet you didn’t think there were any upsides to menopause.
I sure didn’t either. I only saw the downsides: feeling weaker, older, sweatier, and fatter. Ugh. However! There are upsides that are pretty awesome! Hot flashes can help protect you from heart disease and cancer. Who woulda thunk. There are still steps us ladies can do to minimize and relieve hot flashes.
Here is your complete guide to hot flash causes and treatments.
Hot flashes may last for a minute or two, and may be occasional or occur several times an hour throughout the day. They may be mild, moderate or intense. A single episode may be enough to make a woman’s blouse stick to her tummy.
The No. 1. reason for hot flashes is menopause. No surprise here. For women who work out of their home, hot flashes aren’t nearly as disruptive as they are for women who work in offices where they must wear business clothes. Sometimes a hot flash will cause sweat to literally trickle down a woman’s face and chest, making this a workplace nightmare.
Hot flashes can strike anytime—including during a business meeting, and the beads of sweat on our faces can easily be seen. Sometimes, a woman’s face will become noticeably flushed during an episode. Unfortunately, I’ve had a few meetings like this and the looks and comments from the guys are truly embarrassing. Either they have no clue what is going on with me or for the older gents with wives my age, they know too well what’s happening. Either way is still embarrassing for me.
Is there a way women can feel better about hot flashes? Yes, and here are those upsides that I mentioned earlier:
• Hot flashes may lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and premature death
• The study involved tracking 60,000 women for 10 years. The report appears in the online edition of Menopause, and states: “We found that women who experienced symptoms when they began menopause had fewer cardiovascular events than those who experienced hot flashes late in menopause or not at all.”
• Postmenopausal hot flashes may lower breast cancer risk by 50 percent when compared to postmenopausal women who’ve never had them. The researchers believe that hot flashes may have a protective benefit and that women with more severe flashes had an even lower risk of breast cancer, says the report in the Feb. 2011 Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention.
Hot Flash Causes:
As far as menopause, the precise mechanism of the cause is not understood but is believed to be related to hormonal changes and the hypothalamus part of the brain. As women lose estrogen, the fluctuation in hormones can trigger the body to respond. Blood vessels may dilate which allows more blood to rush through the body causing more heat in the body triggering a hot flash.
Women with the following features are more likely to have hot flashes or get them more frequently:
• Sedentary lifestyle
Hot flashes that occur overnight and leave a woman so soaked in sweat that she must change her clothes (and the bed sheets, even) are called night sweats.
Warning: If a woman suspects she’s in menopause (or it’s been confirmed) and she’s suffering drenching night sweats…but no hot flashes during the day…she should report this to her doctor since some diseases can cause night sweats.
Men with Hot Flashes?
Men aren’t immune to hot flashes but unfortunately, it might not be socially acceptable for guys to talk about either. Just as estrogen changes can influence the body in women, testosterone changes can trigger hot flashes in men too. So, guys, if you are feeling hot flashes, it’s not your imagination. You might want to see the doctor to get this checked out.
Hot Flash Solutions:
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for Hot Flash Treatment
Estrogen replacement therapy is sometimes prescribed, but it brings with it an increased risk of uterine cancer. A woman must decide just how aggravating drippy hot flashes are that she’d want to do anything that might even slightly increase her risk of uterine cancer.
If estrogen therapy is combined with progesterone or progestin, the uterine cancer risk reverts to baseline. (Estrogen therapy is safe for women who don’t have a uterus.) The estrogen-progestin approach, though safer for the uterus, actually increases the risk of breast cancer. The risk goes up the longer this combo is used. A woman must have a thorough consultation with her gynecologist about her treatment options for hot flashes. Some women decide to just tolerate the roasting sensation and film of sweat all over their bodies rather than take the chance on increasing their risk of cancer. Your doctor can help you decide what is best for you.
Antidepressants for Hot Flash Treatment
Antidepressants are commonly prescribed to treat hot flashes. These include Effexor, Pristiq, Paxil, and Prozac. These are an ideal alternative for women who fear the increased uterine or breast cancer risk, but these drugs aren’t as effective as HRT. Furthermore, there can be many side effects such as dizziness, cottony mouth, and weight gain. On the other hand, many women tolerate antidepressants quite well. Again, your doctor can help you decide what is best for you.
Other Drugs for Hot Flash Treatment
For women not having much luck with the antidepressants, they may be prescribed Neurontin, commonly used as a painkiller, but it can also cause side effects. Catapres is another drug to be considered, even though its chief use is to treat hypertension.
Weight Loss as Hot Flash Treatment
A report in the July 2010 Archives of Internal Medicine says that weight loss in women who are overweight may find this relieves hot flashes. In addition, the online journal Menopause reports the same findings in the research from Margery Gass, MD.
Natural Remedies for Menopause
Some women find much relief going about their day without any top or bra on. You might want to limit this activity at home but hey, that’s up to you! Adding a few small fans around the house, on your desk, or next to the couch will certainly help and it won’t impact other people in the house or office.
• Often, a woman will know a flash is coming about 15 seconds before it does. During this time, she can drink a chilled beverage or open a window if it’s chilly outside. I live where it snows and I can tell you, it is heavenly to run outside at night and stand in the snow during a flash. Just love it!
• Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods as much as possible, as these may trigger hot flashes. Unfortunately, I love all 3 of these!
• If your spouse/partner doesn’t mind, a ceiling fan is hugely helpful over your bed as a pre-emptive effort in case you flash while asleep.
• The following natural supplements may curb hot flashes: black cohosh, ginseng, and kava.
• Avoid unfermented forms of soy or soy supplements, as these are not soy in its natural form. Studies suggest that processed (“Westernized”) soy can encourage breast tissue growth.
Though causes of hot flashes are not well-understood, there are many possible treatment options. And lastly, never skip a workout session in the name of hot flashes, no matter how saturated in sweat you get. Focus on the barbell, not the sweat!