Menopause is a life stage all women will experience at some point, and it can have uncomfortable and distressing symptoms. Hot flashes are one of the most common and emblematic symptoms of menopause. Hot flashes continue to affect 75 - 85% of women after menopause, during a period known as postmenopause.
The severity of hot flashes varies among women, as does the duration and frequency of episodes, but the symptoms, which include nausea, are usually similar. Read on to have your questions answered.
Is Nausea a Symptom of Hot Flashes?
Yes, nausea is a symptom of hot flashes, although it isn't a primary symptom, so it may not be experienced by all women. The main symptoms of hot flashes include intense feelings of heat, rapid heartbeat, flushing of the face and neck, perspiration, and cold chills, which usually follow the hot flash. Some women will experience nausea, dizziness, anxiety, and headaches.
Why Am I Experiencing Nausea Following a Hot Flash?
Most symptoms of menopause are caused by a change in hormone levels. As the body prepares for the transition between regular menstrual cycles and a cessation of the menstrual cycle, the production of hormones becomes extremely erratic.
These changes have a direct effect on the hypothalamus in the brain, the part that regulates temperature. The hypothalamus incorrectly detects that the body is overheating and heat loss mechanisms are triggered, provoking a hot flash.
Nausea often follows hot flashes because abrupt changes in serotonin can also stimulate the area postrema - a part of the brain that controls nausea and vomiting. As the area postrema is located right next to the hypothalamus, often what disturbs one will also impact on the other.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Stop Hot Flashes and Nausea?
Fortunately, women can reduce hot flashes and nausea by taking steps to rebalance their hormones. Making lifestyle changes, such as the ones laid out here, is a good solution.
- Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, and increase soy consumption
- Maintain an adequate intake of vitamins E and B
- Practice slow, diaphragmatic breathing
- Exercise for at least half an hour each day
- Take a yoga class or consider meditation for stress relief
- Minimize triggers of hot flashes, including spicy foods, hot environments, caffeine, and constrictive clothing
If you continue to suffer from hot flashes and nausea, talk to your doctor. There are alternative treatments for hot flashes, which must be discussed fully with a doctor before being considered.
- Sikon, Andrea and Holly Thacker M.D. "Treatment for Menopausal Hot Flashes". Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. July 2004: 71 (7).
- "Hot flashes ... in January". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2004: 170 (1).
- Miller, Heather and Rose Maria Li, M.D. "Measuring Hot Flashes: Summary of a National Institutes of Health Workshop". Conference report. Mayo Clinic. June 2004: 79.