Hot Flashes – Types, Causes & Treatment

Hot flashes are one of the common symptoms that most women in Perimenopause period through to proper menopause period experience and which you are likely to experience as well. You experience a momentary sensation of heat (or cold at times) spreading to some parts of your body. The hot flashes can be accompanied by reddish flushed face and sweating. Hot flashes occur when blood vessels beneath your skin dilate to cool. The sweating is your body’s natural way of cooling down. You can have troubled sleep when you experience hot flashes at night. The severity and intensity of hot flashes vary greatly from one woman to another. While you may experience hot flashes for some time before it fades away, another may experience into post-menopause period and for life.

Types of Hot Flashes

You are likely to experience two main types of hot flashes.

  • Standard hot flashes – Standard hot flashes are sudden, rapid and can reach a high level of intensity in under a minute. The intensity lasts for a few minutes before fading away gradually.
  • Ember hot flashes – Although ember hot flashes can also be sudden, they are less in intensity compared to standard hot flashes. Ember hot flashes however last longer, extending up to half an hour. Although there is a third type of hot flashes, the same does not occur in pre, menopause or post-menopause periods. Young girls just about to start menstruating do experience menstrual hot flashes that can last for about a week.

Causes of Hot Flashes

The major cause of hot flashes is hormonal changes that occur in your body during menopause. Your personal lifestyle and certain medications can also influence the occurrence of hot flashes. As menopause period sets in, the production of estrogen hormone reduces. This reduction affects your part of brain responsible for controlling various mechanisms and actions (hypothalamus). Apart from reduced estrogen as the main cause of hot flashes, the same can be aggravated by other factors. Consuming caffeine containing beverages, alcohol, spicy foods and cigarette smoking increases the chances of hot flashes occurring. In addition, tight clothing, high stress levels, over exposure to heat and using certain medications also contribute to the occurrence of hot flashes.

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Treatment for Hot Flashes

You can obtain hot flashes treatment through medications and natural remedies.

  • Medications – Prescription medications that your doctor is likely to include blood pressure lowering medications (Catapres, Aldomet), birth control pills, antidepressants (Zoloft, Paxil, Effexor), hormonal replacement therapy medications (Provera, Megace), mild sedatives and anti-seizure medications (Neurontin).
  • Natural remedies – Embarking on a suitable diet is a very effective way of preventing hot flashes. Let your diet be rich in vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. In addition, avoid incorporating spices in your diet. Make it a point to include phytoestrogens in your diet. Phytoestrogens are plants or foods that contain natural estrogen. They include soy, ginseng, flaxseed and yam amongst others. Lifestyle changes can also go along way in preventing the occurrence of hot flashes.

Hot flashes and menopause problems in general can seriously affect your life. It is only important that you find out the most effective ways of managing the same. It is important to start with natural remedies before using medications. In doing so, you need to work with your doctor or health care provider for appropriate advice on the right medication to use.

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