Hot flashes are one of the most common symptom of menopause and can be absolutely dreadful to deal with. Hot flashes can get in the way of your personal happiness and professional productivity, while harming your overall wellness.
It is important to stay in the loop about why it is that hot flashes occur, what to expect, what to avoid, and how to alleviate your symptoms. This list is a great way to start learning about and handling your symptoms in order to keep cool and collected in body and in mind.
They Are Prompted by Hormonal Changes
During menopause, hot flashes are largely prompted by hormonal changes. Your sex hormones, namely testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen are at levels that are generally lower than ever before.
The most impactful hormonal imbalance for hot flashes is estrogen deficiency. This decline directly affects the hypothalamus in the brain, which is in charge of your body temperature. When this center is triggered, it cues stress-like responses that can have you heated up and sweating in a matter of minutes.
Regulate your estrogen levels by taking a supplement or tea of black cohosh - an herb packed with phytoestrogens.
The Symptoms Go Beyond Heat
Although the signature effect of hot flashes are - as the name suggests - flashes of heat, the symptoms extend beyond that. The stress-response mentioned above is characterized by increased blood flow, rapid heartbeat, and shortness of breath.
This, combined with the heat and sweating, can often lead to nervousness and sometimes panic that can culminate to passing out. The panic often occurs because of a feeling of claustrophobia and suffocation. It can also cause high levels of stress, resulting in muscle tension and pain.
They Are Worsened by Certain Habits
There are certain habits and triggers that are known to make hot flashes far worse. When it comes to food, it's best to keep sugary, fatty, and spicy foods to a minimum as there is a clear link between them and intense symptoms. Also, cigarettes, caffeine, and alcohol are found to correlate to frequent episodes.
Further, research has discovered that anxiety can double the severity and duration of one's hot flashes. For this reason it is important to practice relaxation techniques, like meditation and paced breathing, for better coping abilities and a greater sense of serenity.
As long as you keep your hormones balanced, reduce lifestyle triggers, and try medicinal herbs you can greatly decrease the panicky symptoms of hot flashes. It may sound like a lot to juggle, but it's really only a matter of a few small shifts that can improve every aspect of your menopausal life. The most important thing that women need to know about hot flashes is that they are in control.
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2011). Black Cohosh. Retrieved June 24, 2014, from https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/black-cohosh
- National Institutes of Health. (2007). Current Alcohol Use, Hormone Levels, and Hot Flashes in Midlife Women. Retrieved June 24, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1949018/
- National Institutes of Health. (2003). Smoking, Body Mass, and Hot Flashes in Midlife Women. Retrieved June 24, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12576249
- Harvard Medical School. Hot Flashes, Hormones, and your Health. Retrieved June 24, 2014, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/books/Hot-Flashes-Hormones-and-Your-Health