If you found this article, then there’s a good chance you or someone you love is struggling with hot flashes. Luckily, you’ll find some valuable information here that can help you better understand what’s happening to your body and how you can soothe your symptoms.
Although hot flashes can be brought on by a variety of root causes, they’re most commonly associated with menopause, a natural bodily process driven by the cessation of estrogen and progesterone production in the ovaries at midlife.
Due to this drastic hormonal change, menopause often brings on fatigue, insomnia, weight gain, dry skin, brittle hair, and many other frustrating symptoms. While each person is unique and may experience menopause differently, hot flashes are one of the most common complaints from people going through this natural transition. Often beginning early in the menopausal process, hot flashes have been reported by approximately 75% of perimenopausal women in Western nations .
To find out why exactly menopause brings on hot flashes and what you can do to cool off and better regulate your body temperature, keep reading.
What Are Hot Flashes?
True to their name, hot flashes are abrupt, random, and episodic increases in body temperature that typically affect the neck, chest, and face and are preceded by a sudden onset of excessive sweating. They are the most frequent reason perimenopausal women seek medical attention.
Additional symptoms such as heart palpitations, dizziness, headaches, exhaustion, weakness, and anxiety are also associated with hot flashes. While the length, severity, and incidence of hot flashes may vary, they typically peak about a year after the last menstrual cycle. Hot flashes can last a few seconds to several minutes and can occur as often as multiple times per day .
What Causes Hot Flashes?
The cause of hot flashes is fairly complex. First, we’ll explain the physiology, and then we’ll break it down into some easier-to-understand terms.
The precise pathophysiology of hot flashes is still unknown, but one possible explanation is an aberrant regulation of the thermoneutral zone in the hypothalamus (a part of the brain). This leads to extreme vasodilation of peripheral vessels in order to lose heat. This vasodilatory response is triggered in menopausal women by a much smaller rise in core body temperature than normal. The mechanisms of heat loss start once the core body temperature rises by just 0.4°C, ultimately leading to excessive perspiration, flushing and feeling of extreme heat. The body’s goal is to dissipate heat and decrease core body temperature. The chills that come along with hot flashes are a compensatory mechanism to restore the body’s core temperature to a normal state .
Hm… If you didn’t quite understand that, don’t worry. Here’s a translation…
Basically, estrogen affects many of the body’s systems, organs, and regulation centers, including the brain’s hypothalamus. The hypothalamus, among other things, is responsible for regulating your body’s internal temperature, and the key ingredient in this regulatory process is estrogen. So, when estrogen production plummets during menopause, the hypothalamus can no longer perform its job effectively and ends up getting mixed signals about how hot the body actually is. Thinking the body is too hot due to even slight increases in temperature, the hypothalamus triggers vasodilation to decrease blood pressure. In other words, it sends the body into a hot flash which is actually designed to cool down the body’s internal temperature despite making you feel way hotter. Confusing, right?
It’s simple: estrogen helps the body regulate its internal temperature, especially at night . So, when our estrogen levels decrease, our body’s ability to maintain a consistently comfortable temperature unfortunately goes along with it.
Because hot flashes can be triggered by slight increases in body temperature, spending time in warm settings, drinking hot beverages, or even experiencing emotional stress can bring about these uncomfortable symptoms.
Management and Treatment of Hot Flashes
Figuring out how to manage and treat your hot flashes starts with taking note of their frequency and intensity. Hot flashes can range in intensity from mild to severe.
• Mild hot flashes cause no disruption to daily activities and are experienced as intermittent, unbothersome feelings of warmth.
• Moderate hot flashes can sometimes impair daily activities but do not reduce quality of life overall.
• Severe hot flashes render the sufferer unable to perform daily activities, resulting in a decrease in quality of life.
Some women choose to treat their hot flashes and other menopause symptoms with hormones. This approach is commonly known as estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) or hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Despite being a common approach, ERT/HRT is not for everyone. Below, we will go over the common prescription medication-based approaches to treating hot flashes before discussing potential alternative treatments. Ultimately, the treatment that’s best for you should be determined by the severity of your symptoms, your potential contraindications, and the overall picture of your menopausal symptoms.
Some common medication types used to treat hot flashes include:
• Estrogen: While estrogen is arguably the most effective therapy for relieving hot flashes, it can also increase risk of blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer. According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), hormone therapy should always be used at the lowest dose possible and for the shortest necessary duration. You should not use ERT if you:
– might be pregnant or are attempting to become pregnant
– experience vaginal bleeding
– have a history of certain kinds of cancers
– have a history of stroke or heart attack
– have a history of blood clots
– have liver disease
• Antidepressants: Some antidepressant medications have been shown to decrease hot flashes and help with mood instability during menopause. However, most of these medications also come with a long list of troubling side effects.
• Clonidine: Clonidine, a medication designed to reduce blood pressure, may also provide relief from hot flashes for some people.
Managing Mild Hot Flashes
For most women experiencing mild hot flashes, changing up your regular routine is often enough to relieve symptoms.
Using fans, avoiding triggers like alcohol and spices, keeping your room temperature comfortably cool, and wearing loose, breathable clothing are among the many strategies for managing hot flashes with lifestyle changes alone.
Low doses of vitamin E, regular exercise, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) have also been used with some success .
Some other ideas for managing hot flashes without medication include:
• Dressing in layers that can be easily removed when a hot flash begins
• Achieving a healthy weight, if possible
• Refraining from smoking
• Exploring mind-body techniques such as hypnotherapy, meditation, or yoga
Managing Moderate to Severe Hot Flashes
While lifestyle changes can be still be helpful regardless of the severity of your hot flashes, moderate to severe hot flashes might require a more targeted approach.
When it comes to medication, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the only FDA approved treatment for moderate-to-severe menopausal hot flashes. Patients must be under 60 years old without any contraindications such as coronary artery disease, a history of stroke, breast cancer, venous thromboembolism, or active liver disease. HRT can help relieve hot flashes as well as other menopause symptoms such as vaginal atrophy, mood swings, dyspareunia, joint aches, and sleep issues .
However, for those who would prefer to avoid hormone therapy, there are alternative methods, including herbal remedies, which can be helpful in the management of moderate to severe hot flashes.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
Over the past 20 years, debate has persisted about the advantages and drawbacks of hormone replacement treatment. Due to concerns over the increased risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, menopausal women as well as many medical professionals view HRT as a potentially harmful intervention. Therefore, many women have resorted to a variety of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies, including dietary changes, herbal remedies, relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation, vitamins, and minerals.
Due to its low cost and accessibility, CAM’s popularity is steadily growing. Research has shown that approximately 3 out of 4 menopausal women have used CAM to treat their hot flashes. According to another study, the rates of CAM use rose from 48.5% to 80% between 2002 and 2008. Among the many different CAM modalities, many women favor consuming herbal supplements to treat their menopausal symptoms .
Herbal Supplements for Hot Flashes
Because of their alleged capacity to alleviate menopausal problems, nutritional supplements such as phytoestrogens (estrogen-like substances found in plant materials) and herbal remedies have grown in favor in recent years . Most popular nutritional and herbal products used to manage female hormones are made from a combination of soy isoflavones (Equelle, Amberen), black cohosh (Estroven), red clover, vitamins/minerals (Relizen), and over the counter (OTC) hormones including DHEA, topical progesterone, and melatonin.
Soy: Soy contains isoflavones (phytoestrogens) and, according to epidemiological studies, there may be a correlation between soy consumption and reduced hot flashes. Consumption of soy is 4 to 9 times higher in Asian nations like Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Indonesia than in Western nations. This may be the reason why women from Asian countries have reported far fewer hot flashes (10–25%) than women in Western countries (60–90%).
Many menopause supplements on the market are soy-based. However, the isoflavones present in soy are a potential culprit in the rising incidence of breast cancer, so many women choose to avoid soy-based products.
Evening Primrose Oil: One of the most significant sources of phytoestrogens (estrogen-like substances found in plant materials) is evening primrose oil. Research has shown that evening primrose oil can be useful in treating menopausal vasomotor symptoms, including hot flashes . Evening primrose oil has also been linked to the relief of psoriasis, premenstrual syndrome, and the prevention of platelet aggregation.
Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa): Products containing black cohosh have been used worldwide for female hormonal imbalance throughout history. Black cohosh has been reported to be useful in treating menopause symptoms including hot flashes, sleeplessness, irritability, and musculoskeletal discomfort. Unlike phytoestrogens, plants like black cohosh, ginkgo, and valerian work through estrogen-independent mechanisms to reduce menopausal symptoms.
A variety of other herbal substances have been used to relieve the symptoms of menopause, including red clover, rhubarb (Rheum rhaponticum), ginseng (Panax ginseng), dong quai (Angelica sinensis), kava (Piper methysticum), maca (Lepidium meyenii), and chaste tree (Vitex agnus castus).
As so many women experience the unpleasant symptoms of menopause, a safe and effective product is sorely needed.
How ReiSHETM Can Help Treat Hot Flashes
A complete anti-aging supplement for mature women, ReiSHETM was created by Dr. Young Joo Lee, Medical Director of Breast and Integrative Oncology at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland. This revolutionary herbal supplement is the culmination of Dr. Lee’s medical knowledge and clinical experience, backed by her lifelong reputation as an ethical, caring, and compassionate physician.
ReiSHETM has shown many health benefits in women. Most strikingly, almost all users have experienced immediate relief from menopause-related hot flashes, night sweats, and insomnia. It contains the highest quality Ganoderma lucidum extract along with four other adaptogenic herbs that have numerous health benefits in menopause symptom control.
ReiSHETM is made with carefully selected raw herbs grown without pesticides or heavy metal contamination. ReiSHETM is manufactured at a GMP-certified facility in the United States.
You can order ReiSHETM at reisheherbal.com. Dr. Lee takes ReiSHETM every day and wants to share her high quality, safe, and effective formula with other women so that they can also experience the many health benefits of this remarkable product.
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