Hot flashes are nothing but the unexpected feeling of warmth that is experienced in the upper end of the body in areas such as the neck, face, and chest. The skin might turn red and start to sweat. There is a chance if too much heat is lost from the body then a feeling of chillness can accompany it. This is one of the common symptoms of menopause. In Canada, the term hot ‘flushes’ is used instead of hot flashes which is the term used in the United States of America. Here we will discuss hot flashes, their causes, symptoms, and management options.
What are the causes of hot flashes?
The causes which allow hot flashes to occur are yet not fully understood. But some signs have been observed such as falling levels of estrogen in the body or hormonal imbalances. Some other factors that may contribute to hot flashes are outlined below
• Spicy foods
• Hot drinks
• Caffeinated drinks
• Present in a warm room
• Wearing tight clothes
• Thyroid hormone imbalances
• Radiation therapy
What are the symptoms of hot flashes?
The symptoms of hot flashes vary in intensity and may not be the same for all women. Some common symptoms are as follows
• Sudden feeling of warmth which occurs in areas restricted to the neck, chest, and face.
• Flushed appearance with reddish skin
• Fast heartbeat
• Cold feeling after the hot flash has subsided
• Tingling sensation in the fingers
What are the management options for hot flashes?
Management of hot flashes falls into three subcategories mainly
1] Lifestyle changes: In order to implement lifestyle changes it is first important to identify the root causes of the hot flashes and then to keep a diary to note them down. The next step is to avoid these situations altogether. For example, your lifestyle changes are just the opposite of your causes such as
• Dressing up in layers
• Drinking or sipping ice water when a hot flash is about to begin
• Always sleeping with the fan turned on
• Ditching spicy food
• Skip alcohol
• Avoid coffee, tea, cola, and other caffeinated drinks
• Putting brakes on smoking
• Avoiding high-fat and high-sugar foods
• Practicing yoga or other meditation techniques to keep stress at bay
• Keeping room temperature low by using an air conditioner
2] Prescription medicines: There are medicines that may be prescribed by your gynecologist judiciously in order to manage hot flashes if they are not getting lesser in intensity like hormone replacement drugs, anti-depressants, gabapentin or clonidine which can be used in case of hypertension, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In most severe of cases, surgery may be needed to remove the thyroid gland.
3] Natural remedies: These remain controversial as the studies done on them yielded mixed results. Such herbal drug remedies include
• Black cohosh
• Dong Quai
• Evening primrose oil
• Soy isoflavones
Hot flashes are common symptoms of menopause. They are usually not preventable but can be managed well by adopting some lifestyle changes or in more serious cases medicines can be prescribed by a gynecologist or by using natural remedies. If you are interested to know more about hot flashes then kindly contact our gynecologist at Vardaan Hospital.