Unfortunately, hot flash episodes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. Your body goes through many changes during menopause, which can make your internal thermostat unstable. While some women experience mild symptoms that can be easily dealt with, others have extreme cases where their quality of life is compromised.
In the case that you have severe hot flash episodes, it's important to identify why they might be occurring. Although the causes and triggers may vary from person to person, this article can give you a better idea about your case.
Extreme Hot Flashes Symptoms
Generally, menopausal women experience a rise in body temperature that can cause temporary discomfort and then pass. However, when a person has an extreme case of hot flash episodes, the symptoms can be far more invasive.
It may start with a rise in body temperature, which culminates in heavy sweating, shallow breathing, and rapid heartbeat. This can make an individual feel claustrophobic and short of breath, which can actually lead to panic and even passing out. These symptoms can make those affected constantly worried about their next hot flash episode.
During menopause, there is a drop in sex hormone levels like progesterone and estrogen. These hormones play an important role in reproductive functioning, but they are also closely linked to metabolism and body temperature. When estrogen levels decline, signals are sent to the hypothalamus in the brain, which is in charge of regulating body temperature. Upon the receiving cue, the brain initiates a stress response to the sudden imbalance, which results in increased blood flow, dilation of the blood vessels, and increased body temperature.
Other Causes for Extreme Hot Flashes
Another central cause of hot flash episodes is thyroid hormone imbalance. Thyroid hormones are essential for proper synthesis of energy from food through metabolic processes. When you have an overactive thyroid that produces too many thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism), it can cause your body to overheat or worsen menopause symptoms. If your hot flashes are unbearable, it's possible you may have a thyroid condition in addition to the menopausal changes taking place.
Another factor that strongly sets apart women with mild or severe hot flashes are triggers. High alcohol and caffeine consumption may be fusing your heat. Also, research has found that smokers are significantly more likely to experience hot flashes. Further, if you have a lot of stress in your life, you can suffer from hotter and more frequent cases. Keep anxiety to minimum with meditation or yoga.
Now that you have a better idea as to what can be making your hot flash episodes so extreme, you are more prepared to handle your symptoms. Do your best to eliminate triggers from your life, and keep a journal of your diet, habits, and hot flash episodes to help identify your personal triggers. Although it may seem impossible at first, making a couple adjustments can help you manage hot flashes episodes.
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- Carmody, J. , Crawford, S. & Churchill, L. (2006). A Pilot Study of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction for Hot Flashes. Menopause, 13(5), 760-769. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16932242
- Schilling, C. et al. (2007). Current Alcohol Use, Hormone Levels, and Hot Flashes in Midlife Women. Fertility and sterility, 87(6), 1483-1486. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2006.11.033
- Whiteman, M.K. et al. (2003). Smoking, Body Mass, and Hot Flashes in Midlife Women. Obstetrics and gynecology, 101(2), 264-272. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12576249