What Causes Hot Flashes In Women
Hot flashes are ascending or descending heat waves that arise from the neck, head, or chest and occur spasmodically. At the same time, redness appears in the form of waves and increases the heart rate.
The first sign of the onset of hot flashes is usually a feeling of pressure on the head and slight discomfort. After suffocation, which usually lasts between two and three minutes, sweating occurs immediately on the affected areas of the body. Hot flashes and sweating belong to the group of vasomotor symptoms which are related to narrowing or widening of blood vessels.
Hot flashes appear when the blood vessels directly and suddenly swell under the skin and causes more warm blood flows from the inside of the body. That is why, after suffocation, it is usually a slight shiver caused by the cold of evaporation.
Women between the ages of 45 and 70, who are at the age of menopause often suffer from hot flashes. These usually occur in the transition from premenopause to postmenopause. More than 80% of women suffer from hot flashes during menopause. These can occur up to 30 times a day and reach their peak about one year after menopause.
The discomfort during menopause varies greatly from person to person, as not all women suffer from hot flashes to the same extent during this time. These also vary in intensity and duration. They can appear at any time of day and can also disturb sleep at night. However, the hot flashes usually disappear at the end of the hormonal change.
What Causes Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes can have different causes, but they often affect women in the age of menopause. These hot flashes are related to hormonal changes in this period. For with the onset of menopause, low production of the female sex hormone (estrogen), which influences the body’s thermal regulation and among other things.
Due to these changes in the estrogen level of the woman’s body, there is a sudden dilation of the blood vessels which causes the blood to circulate more quickly and in greater quantity. As a result, there is a rise in temperature, a sensation of heat that usually affects the neck and face. It may be accompanied by red spots also on the arms and usually excessive sweating on the exils and parts of the body more prone to sweating. The heat sensation from hot flashes is usually brief, but can last anywhere from 30 seconds to even 10 minutes. However, the mechanical cause of hot flashes is not yet clear to the scientific community.
There are several factors that can favor the appearance of hot flashes in menopause. These factors include:
- Positive and negative stress
- Hot food and drinks
Some reactions of the sympathetic system are activated by stimuli related to stress or emotions such as hot flashes, but also sweating, especially hands and feet.
Caffeine and alcohol are vasodilator substances, which means that they dilate the blood vessels causing the blood to circulate more quickly. Therefore, they trigger hot flashes.
A warm environment prolongs the duration of hot flashes. On the contrary, the fever can attenuate the suffocation and a cold environment prevents or reduces its appearance.
There are also various medications that can cause hot flashes. Some of these are at the following:
- Substances of the losanestrogens group (eg in the case of breast cancer or osteoporosis)
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
- Glycerol Trinitrate
Hot flashes can also occur as a result of different diseases, for example, the following:
- Allergic reactions
- Carcinoid tumors (eg, of the small intestine, small intestine and large intestine)
- Tumors of the adrenal glands (pheochromocytoma)
How To Diagnose Hot Flashes?
The main cause of hot flashes is swelling of blood vessels suddenly, which causes the circulation of a greater amount of warm blood from the inside of the body. Hot flashes are also accompanied by other symptoms such as excessive sweating. Although the causes of hot flashes can be varied, the most common cause is menopause. Therefore, a woman between 45 and 55 years old with the symptoms of hot flashes should first of all think that she may be starting the climacteric process. During this stage, the hormonal disorders that a woman experiences seem to be the cause that triggers the hot flashes.
Therefore, if a woman goes to the doctor because of a hot flash, the first step in determining the diagnosis is to examine whether the cause of the hot flash can be menopause. To do this, it is not only important to know if the woman in question is over 45 years, but also if there are simultaneous changes in the menstrual cycle. Through a gynecological exam, doctor can detect changes in the uterus, vagina and breasts. In addition, a concentration of the female sex hormone, eg estradiol and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) can be determined with a blood test.
If menopause is not the cause of hot flashes or is a man who suffers, the doctor will ask if the affected person is taking medication and have experienced other symptoms. This evaluation, in which the physician is interested in a series of questions related to the patient’s lifestyle. But this evaluation is not enough to make a correct diagnosis, although it will allow the doctor to have an approximation of the cause.
A good diagnosis requires physical tests to ensure the cause of the hot flashes, taking into account the circumstances of the patient. According to the alleged cause, the doctor performs more tests, for example the following:
Proof of allergies. It is possible that hot flashes may manifest as part of a reaction to an allergen.
- Thyroid hormone test
- Urine analysis
- Computed Tomography (CT)
- Magnetic resonance tomography
How To Treat Hot Flashes?
The treatment of hot flashes depends on the cause that caused them. If hot flashes occur during menopause because of hormonal changes, emergency measures such as taking fresh air and removing some clothing can help. To reduce the intensity of hot flashes during menopause, it may be helpful to take a walk, stay calm, and practice relaxation techniques. Those affected should not abuse alcohol, coffee or black tea. The narrowing of the blood vessels with contrast douches is also useful.
Usually the hormonal change lasts between three and five years, and then the hot flashes decrease. However, if women suffer heat attacks and other menopause discomforts that greatly limit their quality of life, a treatment of hormones with a combination of estrogens (eg estradiol) and gestagens (eg, dydrogesterone, levonorgestrel ) or tibolone can be done by doctors.
If hot flashes are a secondary symptom of another underlying disease such as hyperthyroidism or a carcinoid tumor, a specific treatment of this disease is required.