Hot flashes are the sudden feeling of warmth in the upper body, which is usually most intense over the face, neck and chest. Your skin might redden, as if you’re blushing. A hot flash can also cause sweating. If you lose too much body heat, you might feel chilled afterward. Night sweats are hot flashes that happen at night, and they may disrupt your sleep.
Although other medical conditions can cause them, hot flashes most commonly are due to perimenopause and menopause — the time when menstrual periods become irregular and eventually stop, where these are known as vasomotor symptoms (VMS).In fact, hot flashes are the most common symptom of the menopausal transition.
• Hot flashes are typically brief, lasting from about 30 seconds to a few minutes.
• Redness of the skin, known as flushing, may accompany these symptoms.
• Excessive perspiration (sweating) can also occur; when hot flashes occur during sleep they may be accompanied by night sweats.
• Feelings of anxiety may accompany hot flashes.
• Occasionally, palpitations (feelings of a racing heart beat) may occur during hot flashes.
The frequency and intensity of hot flashes vary among women. A single episode may last a minute or two — or as long as 5 minutes.
How often hot flashes occur varies among women, but most women who report having hot flashes experience them daily. On average, hot flash symptoms persist for more than seven years. Some women have them for more than 10 years.
Hot flashes are most commonly caused by changing hormone levels before, during and after menopause. It’s not clear exactly how hormonal changes cause hot flashes. But most research suggests that hot flashes occur when decreased estrogen levels cause your body’s thermostat (hypothalamus) to become more sensitive to slight changes in body temperature. When the hypothalamus thinks your body is too warm, it starts a chain of events — a hot flash — to cool you down.
Rarely, hot flashes and nights sweats are caused by something other than menopause. Other potential causes include medication side effects, problems with your thyroid, certain cancers and side effects of cancer treatment.
Risk Factors –
Factors that may increase your risk include –
• Smoking. Women who smoke are more likely to get this problem.
• Obesity. A high body mass index (BMI) is associated with a higher frequency of hot flashes.
• Race. More black women report having hot flashes during menopause than do women of other races. These symptoms reported least frequently in Asian women.
This problem may impact your daily activities and quality of life. Night time hot flashes (night sweats) can wake you from sleep and, over time, can cause long-term sleep disruptions.
Women who have hot flashes may have an increased risk of heart disease and greater bone loss than women who do not have it.
Your doctor can usually diagnose hot flashes based on a description of your symptoms. After observing your symptoms your doctor might suggest blood tests to check whether you’re in menopausal transition.
Some women can wait out hot flashes with no treatment. If they’re bothersome or causing trouble for you, talk to your doctor about taking hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, for a limited time, typically less than 5 years. This prevents symptoms from occuring for many women. It can help other symptoms of menopause, including vaginal dryness and mood disorders.
Estrogen is the primary hormone used to reduce hot flashes. Most women who have had a hysterectomy can take estrogen alone. But if you still have a uterus, you should take progesterone with estrogen to protect against cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer).
Gabapentin and pregabalin, usually given for nerve-mediated pain or seizures, offer relief for some women. Antidepressants venlafaxine (Effexor), fluoxetine (Prozac), and paroxetine (Paxil) have also been shown to be effective for treatment of this problem.
Ayurvedic Treatment –
The main goal of ayurvedic treatment is to establish the balance of vata and pitta doshas, improve the digestive fire (agni) and eradicate toxins (ama) from the body.
▪︎ Ayurvedic detox (Panchakarma) forhot flashes
Panchakarma is the process of removing toxins from the body. Ayurvedic physicians tailor panchakarma according to the state of the patient’s doshas.
• Medicated ghee is orally administered for few days to prepare the stubborn toxins (ama).
• Medicated purgation (Virechana) is very effective in calming down the aggravated pitta doshas and blood tissues.
• Medicated enemas (Vasti) are administered for calming down the aggravated vata doshas and apana vata which become disordered during menopause.
• Medicated nasal oil (Nasya) helps with the symptoms of mind and head.
• Pouring herbal oil or decoction over the scalp (Shirodhara) is an effective therapy for calming the nervous system and balancing the neuro-transmitters.
▪︎ Natural Remedies
With a decrease in estrogen levels in the female body, the regulation of fat metabolism and control of cholesterol levels becomes a challenge. Arjuna is a herb touted for its ability to augment heart functions, thus helping women preserve normal blood pressure and averting cardiac ailments.
Due to sudden peaks and dips in female reproductive hormone levels during menopause, nervous system operations are negatively influenced. Cardamom is a condiment that works as a marvellous mood enhancer which immensely aids in uplifting mental activities, brain functions, memory and concentration, besides soothing depression.
The intense increase in vata dosha in the time of menopause invariably leads to an imbalance in pitta and kapha doshas as well, heating up the body rapidly and resulting in hot flashes. Fennel seeds are a natural vata reducing spice and possess an intrinsic cooling property, which helps to control sweating and body temperature.
Since hormonal levels vary widely during menopause, body weight changes tend to occur as well. Owing to the fact that an unhealthy gain in body mass leads to chronic conditions of diabetes and obesity, it is vital to keep body weight in check. The gum resin extracted from the potent guggul herb is a remarkable therapeutic method to shed excess kilos for women undergoing menopause.
Due to Dhatu Kshaya i.e. loss of tissue mass and reduction in estrogen levels, the bones, muscles and joints also become weak in women during menopause, increasing the risk of acquiring arthritis, osteoporosis and other debilitating joint ailments. Garlic is famed for its powerful anti-inflammatory traits, which significantly reinforce bones, joints and improve muscle strength.
Lifestyle Changes –
Making small changes to your normal lifestyle can sometimes help limit the number and severity of your hot flashes.
• Dressing in layers, reducing the temperature in your home, using a fan and drinking cold beverages can all be small ways to help with hot flashes.
• If you have obesity, you might have more bothersome issues. Maintaining a healthy body weight may be helpful.
• Smoking contributes to the increased cardiovascular risks of being postmenopausal. People who smoke and/or use tobacco products also tend to experience more hot flashes, so you should avoid smoking or using tobacco products.
• Exercise is another lifestyle change that often helps menopausal people. Just take care to watch the temperature when you work out. Getting overheated can trigger symptoms, so it’s best to try and exercise in a cooler environment.
• Plant estrogens, such as isoflavones, are thought to have weak estrogen-like effects that might reduce hot flashes.
Examples of foods with isoflavones include – Soybeans, Chickpeas, Lentils, Flaxseed, Grains, Beans, Fruits, Vegetables
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