Hot flashes are practically synonymous with menopause—but, despite most people being aware of their existence, many don’t know what, exactly, hot flashes are.
Hot flashes are regarded as one of the common symptoms women experience as a part of menopause and perimenopause. However, this is not the only possible cause. In fact, they can actually occur at any age and even affect men.
What are hot flashes?
Hot flashes are a disturbance in your body’s thermoregulatory system, i.e. the process that allows your body to maintain its core temperature.
During menopause, the thermostat gets shifted so that women are increasingly sensitive to small changes in temperature. Their body overreacts to try to cool them off by dispersing heat and sweating.
The process happens to everyone when their bodies are trying to get rid of heat, but it “happens in a much more magnified sense in these hot flashes.
What causes hot flashes?
The cause of hot flashes isn’t known, but it’s likely related to several factors. These include changes in reproductive hormones and in your body’s thermostat (hypothalamus), which becomes more sensitive to slight changes in body temperature.
Hot flushes can have causes that aren’t due to underlying disease. Examples include embarrassment, eating hot food, drinking hot drinks, eating spicy food, menopause or an adrenal rush from a dangerous situation.
My Medical Mantra spoke to a few health experts to gain a deeper understanding on this subject and also know about the remedies to treat them.
Dr Komal Chavan, a gynaecologist from Cooper Hospital, informed, “During menopause the hormonal balance changes. Levels of estrogen decrease and this imbalance causes sweating or hot flashes. A woman can suffer from symptoms like a sudden rise in body temperature, anxiety and a hot sensation in hands and feet.”
She added, “We suggest our patient to use cotton clothes and a few simple lifestyle changes. If someone is suffering from severe heat or sweating then we treat them with medication.”
During menopause, women can pursue a number of treatments to maintain comfort.
Most women do not seek medical advice during this time, and many women require no treatment. However, a woman should visit a doctor if symptoms are affecting her quality of life.
Women should choose the type of therapy dependent on their menopausal symptoms, medical history, and personal preferences.
While Dr Sushma Deshmukh, a gynaecologist from Nagpur stated, “Symptoms of hot flashes are generally seen in women who are in their 30’s to late-50’s. Hot flashes start around 2-3 years before menopause. A lot of women come to me with this complaint. They feel sudden heat in the body and anxiety. We ask our patients to do yoga to beat the sudden rise in heat.”