Hot flashes are perhaps the most common and bothersome symptom of menopause. They can come on suddenly and unexpectedly, and they are often quite uncomfortable. Take some time to read over the following information on managing the symptoms of hot flashes.
What Are Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes are normally characterized by a sensation of intense heat in the upper body, an increased heart rate, and profuse sweating. The duration of a hot flash episode is different for every woman, but it typically lasts around five minutes.
What Is Biofeedback?
Biofeedback is the connection of electrical sensors that measure and receive information about the body, like blood pressure and heart rate. This provides information that allows you to better control certain bodily functions. The readings from the sensors aid you in manipulating subtle changes in your body, such as relaxing certain muscles in order to reduce pain.
Using biofeedback can be beneficial in managing menopause symptoms like anxiety and urinary incontinence.
What Causes Hot Flashes?
The primary cause of hot flashes is the decrease in estrogen levels during menopause. Fluctuating hormone levels impact the ability of the hypothalamus - the temperature regulation area of the brain - to accurately read the body's temperature. When the hypothalamus falsely perceives an increase in temperature, the body tries to cool down by dilating the blood vessels near the skin's surface to release heat and perspiration. This process produces hot flashes.
Hot flashes are often accompanied by other symptoms, like dizziness and heart palpitations, which vary in intensity and frequency. Biofeedback aims to assist women in developing techniques to help control internal symptoms.
Biofeedback and Hot Flashes: What to Do
Biofeedback has not been widely studied for the treatment of hot flashes, so it is unknown whether or not it could be effective in relieving them. However, learning the relaxation techniques that are incorporated into biofeedback training - such as deep breathing - can help reduce hot flash episodes as they come on.
Since hot flashes are linked to decreased estrogen levels in the body, it is best to treat the underlying hormonal imbalance by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and complementing it with alternative medicine if necessary.
It is widely believed that the most effective method of dealing with hot flashes and other symptoms is a combination of healthy lifestyle and alternative medicine. Avoiding triggers - such as alcohol and spicy foods - is key to preventing episodes. For more information on treating hot flashes and other menopause symptoms, follow the links below.
- National Health Service UK. (2015). Hot flushes: how to cope. Retrieved January 22, 2016, from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/menopause/Pages/hot-flushes.aspx
- National Institutes of Health. (2013). Biofeedback: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved February 4, 2016, from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002241.htm
- Sikon, A. & Thacker, H. (2004). Treatment for Menopausal Hot Flashes. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 71(7).
- Weir, E. (2004). Hot flashes ... in January. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 170(1), 39-40. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC305309/