Causes of Hot Flashes
No one know exactly why hot flashes occur, but the causes of hot flashes is most commonly thought to have to do with hormone imbalance.
Are your hot flashes keeping you from getting a good nights sleep?
What Are the Causes of Hot Flashes?
What happens is, when there are too much demand put on your body's ability to balance your hormones, this overwhelms the brain, which is then confused into thinking the body needs to dispel heat. The resulting hormonal imbalance gives rise to hot flashes or night sweats.
Basically, what results is the sending out of signals for blood vessels to dilate, your heart rate to increase, and your sweat glands to open. The result is the unpleasant rush of heat, perspiration, dizziness, and pounding heart that characterize hot flashes.
Categories of Hot Flashes
Hot flashes can be categorized as mild, moderate or severe. Mild flashes last less than a minute, you'll feel warm and might sweat a little or not at all. Moderate flashes are warmer, cause obvious sweating, and last 2 to 3 minutes. Severe flashes causes profuse perspiration, generate intense heat, last longer and interfere with ongoing activity.
Reasons and Causes of Hot Flashes
The reasons for hot flashes are linked to a number of factors, including...
- Hormone Levels
Although the exact cause of hot flashes is not fully understood, hot flashes are thought to be due to a combination of hormonal and biochemical fluctuations brought on by declining estrogen levels. As the estrogen hormone drops, the body attempts to compensate by releasing other hormones.
The body's attempt at hormonal balance causes the body's temperature to fluctuate when the brain reacts to the internal stimuli by dilating blood vessels to arms, legs and head dilate. The body chills when the blood vessels constrict to cool the body.
The quality of our food supply and eating patterns are not what they once were. Lowering the refined carbohydrates and the consumption of processed foods in your diet will improve hormone balance and hot flashes. Soy foods can provide relief from hot flashes along with phytoestrogen products like Remifemin, Promensil, black cohosh, dong quai, and chaste berry. Eat whole foods, fruits, and vegetables.
Perhaps as important as which foods women should eat to prevent hot flashes are those foods they should avoid. Many foods are thought to contribute to or worsen discomfort from hot flashes. Alcohol, caffeine, excess sugar, dairy products, meat products and spicy foods rank among the top aggravators of severe hot flashes as well as mood swings. Wine or coffee acidifies the blood and strains the liver which can trigger hot flashes.
- Hot and Humid Weather
Some women's skin temperature can rise six degrees Centigrade during a hot flash.
By far, women find the most common cause of hot flashes to be reaction from stress. Stress causes epinephrine and norepinephrine release into the blood stream which in turn causes increased blood flow and thus increased heat.
- Current Medications
Anti-hypertensive and mood altering drugs like anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications and other types of prescription drugs can also cause hot flashes. Each prescription drug you are taking should be checked to see if hot flashes or night sweats are a known side effect. OTC medications and supplements should also be considered for potential side effects.
What Can You Do About Hot Flashes?
There's a lot you can do to avoid the causes of hot flashes. For starters...
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, excess sugar, dairy products, meat products and spicy foods.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise helps to decrease hot flashes by lowering the amount of circulating FSH and LH and by raising endorphine levels which drop during a hot flash.
- Quit Smoking. A recent study found that women who smoke have significantly more hot flashes than nonsmokers.
- Avoid hot weather and humidity. Wear all cotton clothes that allow your skin to breathe and keep a fan nearby during hot weather to reduce the number of hot flashes.
- Consider herbs for menopause. Black Cohosh, Motherwort, and Dong Quai are herbs for hot flashes relief.
- Many menopause symptoms respond to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy including hot flashes. Talk to your doctor or health care professional about BHRT. You need to understand both the risks and the benefits of hormone replacement therapy.
Causes of Hot Flashes