Hot flashes are an extremely common symptom of menopause, affecting around 75% of women in the United States. Since sex hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are significantly decreasing during this transition, it affects your body's homeostasis.
Homeostasis is a system of regulated and stable internal body conditions, such as temperature and acidity of the blood. When the core body temperature is even slightly off, it cues the hypothalamus in the brain. This causes hot flash symptoms to arise rapidly. The imbalance in the body can lead to outward feelings of dizziness. Continue reading to learn more about hot flashes and dizziness.
Increased Blood Flow
When your internal thermostat is not functioning properly, you will feel extremely hot. Very quickly, your blood flow increases, your heart starts pounding, and you get a rush of heat.
This heat causes blood vessels to dilate in the chest, neck, and face. You will become very red and flustered. The flow can make you feel faint due to the unfamiliar fiery feeling and you may have to quickly sit down. It can feel like your head has just turned into an oven. Read more about what hot flashes feel like.
Shallow breathing can easily and quickly make you feel dizzy. Your body begins to quicken its breathing in attempts to calm down during a hot flash, however, this often has the opposite effect.
What you are doing is taking in more than enough oxygen, but not carbon dioxide be expelled. This will make it feel like you are not getting enough air, and make you start to breathe even faster.
Practice deep, slow breathing every single day for 15 minutes. Inhale deep into your belly for five seconds, then exhale for five seconds, then repeat. You will be much more prepared to keep your composure and steady your breathing.
The heat, shallow breathing, and increased heart rate can cause you to feel a lot of anxiety, which actually only worsens the episode. When you are anxious, you can develop feelings of claustrophobia and panic. This will make you more hot, sweaty, and irritable, and the worry can be dizzying. Nervousness can be a number one cause of dizziness during a hot flash, so it is important to relax.
Phytoestrogenic black cohosh can balance your hormones, lessening your chances of a hot flash. Additionally, body-calming St John's wort can fight depression and relieve anxiety.
If you feel a hot flash coming, sit down if you can, since many symptoms can cause you to feel faint and lose your balance. As you can imagine, dizziness can be dangerous in certain situations, so take whatever measures you can to remain stable, hydrated, and calm when the heat is upon you. Read more on stopping hot flash episodes.
- American Academy of Dermatology. (2014). Rosacea: Who Gets and Causes. Retrieved February 14, 2014, from http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/q---t/rosacea/who-gets-causes
- Breast Cancer.org. (2013). Retrieved February 14, 2014, from http://www.breastcancer.org/tips/menopausal/facing/hot_flashes
- NYU Langone Medical Center. (2013). Claustrophobia. Retrieved February 14, 2014, from http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=100695