What Causes Menopause Hot Flashes?



With menopause come a number of symptoms with hot flashes often being considered the worst. Hot flashes are sometimes referred to as “hot flushes” whereby a woman will feel sudden and overwhelming warmth that usually affects the upper body, face, and neck. Sometimes, hot flashes will be accompanied by sweats at night, which are called “night sweats.” The exact physiologic cause of hot flashes is not known although the trigger probably has something to do with an increase in blood flow coming from the brain’s regulatory area.

Experts believe as increased body temperature is detected, chemicals causing the body temperature can easily handle changes of 1.5 degrees, estrogen (and testosterone) allows the body to have a higher tolerance prior to the blood vessel dilation. However, when a woman is going through menopause, her levels of estrogen are less, meaning menopause hot flashes are more intense and not tolerated as well.

Sometimes, menopause hot flashes will last 30 seconds while other times they can go on for minutes at a time. The reason is that the hot flash will continue until increased heat is dissipated. For this reason, many doctors will recommend a woman reduce her bedroom temperature by about five degrees at night, which helps with both the hot flashes and night sweats. In addition, certain foods and drinks can trigger menopause hot flashes. For instance, spicy foods as well as hot coffee or other drinks, caffeine, and alcohol are all culprits. You will even find that certain medications can trigger hot flashes to include antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs.

If you are a woman experiencing menopause hot flashes, you can take several steps to reduce or eliminate them. Start by avoiding any foods, hot drinks, alcohol, caffeine, exercise, and smoking three to four hours before bedtime. Wear cotton clothing, which is much cooler and more absorbent, use fans at your desk at work or around the home, learn slow, calculated breathing techniques when you feel a hot flash coming on, which has shown to decrease the frequency by as much as 50%, and finally, take time during the day to walk, jog, swim, or bike for about 30 minutes daily. These simple steps will make a huge difference in dealing with hot flashes associated with menopause and if needed, talk to your doctor.


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