Did you know that as many as 80% of women will experience hot flashes during their perimenopause journey?
While not every woman will suffer, those that do get them understand how miserable they can make life!
Hot flashes, night sweats, and cold flashes are all classified as “vasomotor” symptoms. Vasomotor refers to the changing temperature in the body.
Experts don't totally understand why women struggle with hot flashes during this particular season, but current theories behind them center around the changes in your estrogen levels, which appear to affect your hypothalamus, the part of your brain that is responsible for regulating your body's temperature.
Two in every ten women never get hot flashes, while others have hot flashes for only a very short period of time. But there are the lucky ones that can have them for 11 years or more. On average, however, women get hot flashes or night sweats for about 7 years.
Anywhere from 60-80% of women will struggle with hot flashes, which are often partnered with by excessive sweating and an increased heart rate.
Hot flashes are not just an inconvenience, sometimes they can seriously affect your overall health.
Rebecca Thurston, a Psychiatry professor, shared the connection between frequent hot flashes and an increased risk of a cardiovascular disease. What she found was that women with more frequent hot flashes in their mid-forties had double the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure later in life.
The good news >>> is there are a few treatments and strategies you can take to help reduce the severity of hot flashes.
One option often recommended is hormone therapy (HT) *This is a great conversation to have with your doctor if you are constantly struggling with hot flashes.
Other non-pharmaceutical options include Evening Primrose Oil and Black Cohosh supplements.
Foods like flaxseed, mushrooms, miso, sage and beans can also help.
It’s important to understand what triggers your specific hot flashes so that you can take control by making a few lifestyle tweaks to help alleviate the severity of your symptoms.
6 Most Common Hot Flash Triggers:
Stress is perhaps the most common and most difficult hot flash trigger to manage. It’s more common for women to experience chronic stress and with that comes the constant production of stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. When these hormone levels are high, they increase heart rate and blood pressure. These two processes lead to an increase in body temperature and that increase triggers a hot flash. Stress management is one of your best tools for reducing hot flashes.
Spicy food, though delicious and definitely one of my favorites, is another hot flash trigger. Spicy foods can raise body temperature by increasing the speed at which blood flows through the cardiovascular system, as well as increase levels of hormones like adrenaline. This causes both your heart rate and blood pressure to rise, which as we know raises body temperature and triggers a hot flash. So for now, you may have to cut back on some of your favorite dishes or at least tone them down some!
Alcohol is one of the strongest hot flash triggers because it raises your body's temperature and can trigger a hot flash. Limiting the amount of alcohol you consume is the best place to get started.
Caffeine is a stimulant, and like all stimulants, it raises heart rate and blood pressure, both of which can raise body temperature. It also takes longer for caffeine to be metabolized by the body. One 6 ounce cup of coffee in the morning can take up to 12 hours for the body to metabolize and expel from the body. This means that the likelihood of experiencing multiple hot flashes throughout the day increases.
Warm or tight clothes can trigger hot flashes. Decreasing the amount of heat generated and insulated by your clothes can help you reduce the chances of experiencing numerous hot flashes throughout the day. Wear looser fitting clothes made out of a thinner, breathable fabric, especially when it’s hot out.
Of course, not all hot flash triggers are something we can easily control. Hot, humid weather is one of the biggest hot flashes triggers. When the weather is warm, the body has a hard time keeping itself cool. In a normal situation, our hypothalamus does what it does best and tells the skin to release sweat to cool the body from the outside in. For women in menopause, warm weather means that they may experience hot flashes more often throughout the day. It’s important to try to keep the skin as cool as possible. Using fans, ice packs, and drinking cold beverages when it’s hot out can help keep hot flashes.
There are many things that can trigger a hot flash, but being able to understand and identify your hot flash triggers is the first step in finding ways to manage them and help you find some relief.
Do you have some tips you’d like to share with our community to help manage hot flashes? Please share by leaving them in the comments below!