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Hot Flashes: What Are They Like? Are You Starting To Feel Them?

Hot Flashes: What Are They Like? Are You Starting To Feel Them?

Picture this: You are in the middle of something when you feel agitated by a heat you are feeling inside. As you go along the day, you begin to wonder, why are you the only one in the household complaining about the scorching heat? Why are you the only one dripping with sweat? Are you starting to feel hot flashes because of menopause? If this sounds familiar to you, read on.

Understanding Hot Flashes

A hot flash is a sudden sensation of heat in the upper body, particularly over the face, neck, and chest area. Because of it, your skin may appear flushed as if you’re blushing. This feeling is common in women who are in their perimenopause (pre-menopause) and menopause stages, which typically start during their 40s.

Sweating is one common signs, and when this happens, you may become cold if you lose too much body heat. At night, hot flashes may take place and may interfere with your sleep.

Some women only have a few hot flash experiences that may not really bother them. But other women may have numerous incidences throughout the day, which may lead to disruption of daily activities and feelings of discomfort.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

A woman can easily detect if she is experiencing hot flashes through the following signs and symptoms:

  • A quick sensation of warmth spreads across your chest, neck, and face
  • Red, blotchy skin with a flushed appearance
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating (primarily on the upper body)
  • Cooling feeling (when the hot flashes eventually subside)
  • Feelings of anxiety

Hot flashes normally occur for about 5 minutes or so. However, the duration and intensity of the hot flashes may differ among women. Some may start feeling it prior to menopause up until they are menopausal. The experience can occur repeatedly for more than seven years on average, but some may have hot flashes for almost 10 years.

What Causes This Feeling?

What exactly causes hot flashes is still unknown, although they are assumed to be linked to changes in the brain’s thermoregulatory region. This region regulates heat production and loss and is controlled by hormones.

Progesterone and estrogen levels fluctuate dramatically during preimenopause. This rollercoaster ride of hormones affects the hypothalamus, the part of the brain which controls appetite, sleep-wake cycles, sex hormones, and body temperature.

Hot flashes can also be influenced by different lifestyle factors and medications a woman takes.

Some of the identified triggers are:

  • Eating spicy foods
  • Smoking
  • Wearing thick layers of clothing
  • High room temperature
  • High body mass index (BMI)
  • Treatments to certain kinds of cancer
  • Medications
  • Other comorbid health conditions (thyroid, diabetes, tuberculosis)
  • Feelings of anxiety and stress

How to Manage Hot Flashes

Natural remedies are the best method to deal with a hot flash. Some lifestyle changes can help you deal with hot flashes, or at least reduce their occurrence.

It may help to go over these tips first before seeking medication:

  • Avoid triggers (i.e., caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol, smoke, diet pills, hot places).
  • Wear thin layers of clothing (such as cotton, linen, and rayon).
  • Have your cold water within hand reach.
  • Lower room temperature.
  • Reduce fat in your diet.
  • Take a cold shower before going to bed.
  • Wear comfortable loungewear when sleeping.
  • Carry a portable fan with you.
  • Use cotton sheets for your beddings.

Acupuncture has also been demonstrated in studies to be an effective treatment for hot flashes. After eight weeks of acupuncture treatment, the research funded by the National Institutes of Health revealed that almost half of the women who responded to the treatment reported fewer hot flash episodes.

Some may also opt for medications, hormone therapies, and other treatments recommended by doctors.

Key Takeaways

Hot flashes are normally just a sensation of heat, nothing more, nothing less. However, this persistent feeling may make you uncomfortable and disrupt your daily activities.

If you’re experiencing something more than an uncomfortable sensation, or other symptoms arise, it is best to have a conversation with your doctor about it.

Learn more about menopause here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Fiel Tugade Updated Oct 20
Fact Checked by Cesar Beltran