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Team Inspiriko - August 2022

Understanding Hot Flashes, Symptoms, Triggers & Relief

If you’re approaching menopause, hot flashes are probably part of your daily routine. These annoying heat waves can hit you any time, day and night, disrupting your routine without an apparent cause. Thanks to these hot flashes, waking up drenched in sweat can become all too common!

Hot flashes may be brief, but the consequences on your life are not. In addition to feeling deeply uncomfortable, being unable to rest properly can unleash a chain of symptoms like fatigue, irritability, and even depression, affecting your quality of life.

However, your health and happiness do not have to plummet together with your hormone levels. Traditional medicine, together with natural treatments and some lifestyle choices, can help you recover your old self and get those annoying hot flashes under control. Want to discover how? Keep on reading this article and find the answer!

What Exactly Are Hot Flashes?

Hot flashes are the way your body has to say “it’s too hot” and try to bring relief. As a result, it triggers mechanisms like sweating to get rid of that excess heat. They are sudden, internal heat waves that typically appear during menopause or perimenopause. Sweating and flushed skin are usual companions and their severity can range widely from woman to woman (1).

And while some women get these hot flashes for the rest of their lives, most of them see them end when they reach post menopause.

Main Causes of Hot Flashes

The main culprits behind hot flashes are dwindling hormones. Though experts are not sure exactly how this produces hot flashes, it seems that a lack of estrogen is to blame. During perimenopause and menopause, female hormones become imbalanced, particularly estrogen and progesterone.

Research suggests that this affects your hypothalamus , the part of your brain in charge of the body’s temperature, among other crucial functions (2). As a result, your hypothalamus may erroneously perceive you’re too hot and start a process to cool you down: that’s when hot flashes seem to occur.

How Do Hot Flashes Feel Like?

Not every woman feels hot flashes in the same way. In fact, 2 in 10 women never get hot flashes at all. But if you’re not among the lucky group, here’s how hot flashes feel like, in general:

- A brief sensation of heat throughout your body (particularly through your chest and face).
- Excessive sweating.
- Red skin.
- Rapid heartbeats (which sometimes produce anxiety)
- Chills when the episode is finished.

When they occur at night, they can become night sweats and disrupt the quality of your sleep, subsequently bringing about fatigue and irritability.

You may be wondering how frequent these hot flashes last. Well, again this varies among women, though most of them report that these episodes last between 2-5 minutes. You can expect to have these hot flashes for 7-10 years (3).

Risk Factors for Hot Flashes

On average, hot flashes can appear in your late 40s to early 50s and typically decrease in severity as time goes by and your body accommodates the lack of estrogen. Again, as the reasons behind hot flashes are not yet clear, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly all the risk factors behind them. But here’s what most researchers agree on (4):

● Current and past cigarette smoking, which can intensify the duration of hot flashes (though it’s unclear how or why).
● Depression (5). Researchers found out that depressed women are more likely to suffer hot flashes.
● Obesity. Researches also discovered that women with higher body mass index were at a higher risk of having frequent hot flashes (6)
● Race: non-white women are likely to suffer longer and more frequent hot flashes (7).

Hot Flashes Triggers

You can’t truly prevent hot flashes, but there are some known triggers that may set them off. You can find some of them below:

Food. If hot flashes torture you, you’d better watch what you eat! Spicy foods, especially those prepared with hot peppers and chilli powders are known to be triggers (8).
Alcohol. Research shows it can also be a trigger for hot flashes, as 57% of the participants reported increased hot flashes when consuming alcohol regularly (9).
Temperature. Heat may also trigger your hot flashes, particularly if you get overheated by physical activity.


Learn where you are in your menopause / perimenopause journey with the help of a personalised report.


Possible Solutions For Relief

Hot flashes may seem inevitable, but today you have many available treatments that can help you manage your hormonal imbalance and get rid of your symptoms. Don’t let them disrupt your life: reach out to your healthcare provider to understand your options. In the meantime, here we present you with the most effective treatments for hot flashes: 

Traditional Options

● Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) will replace the estrogen you have lost and may provide relief for hot flashes and night sweats.
● Some pills that help with depression (those related to serotonin receptors) seem to be effective as well.
● Other medications, such as the ones used for seizures or urinary infections can also have beneficial effects when dealing with hot flashes (10).

Natural Herbs

Black Cohosh acts in a similar way to estrogen and has serotonin-like effects, which can help your body regulate its temperature and avoid hot flashes, though it can bring about stomach upset and other side effects (11).
Soy also contains phytoestrogens (which mimic the effects of estrogen in your body) and is generally safe, except for people with allergies (12).
Vitamin E can significantly reduce the discomfort produced by hot flashes, though you should always consult with your doctor so as not to overdose (13).
Red clover, similar to soy, has isoflavones , which seem to be effective to treat hot flashes and night sweats when taken regularly (14). Most of the time, red clover is a better alternative to soy, particularly for people who may be allergic.
Ashwagandha has relaxing properties and helps rebalance estrogen levels, helping menopausal women manage hot flashes, among other symptoms (15).
Folic Acid has been proven by research to lessen the severity and duration of hot flashes and night sweats while preventing heart disease (which is common in post menopause) (16).
Pine Bark in addition to being used to treat menstrual pain, pine bark can also be effective to treat hot flashes (17).
Flaxseed can have beneficial effects on vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats thanks to its lignants (substances that has been reported to regulate hormones and help decrease hot flashes and night sweats by 30% (18). Plus, they are associated with lower risk of breast cancer during post menopause.
Vitamin B6, contained in oily fish, contributes to hormonal balance, thus helping reduce the duration and severity of hot flashes (19).

Lifestyle Changes

● Avoid triggers like alcohol and spicy food to prevent hot flashes. You can use an app to track down those triggers so you learn how to identify them (and later on, avoid them).
● Dress in layers, so you can get rid of some clothes in case they suddenly appear. Also, wearing comfortable, cool clothes can help you get relief from hot flashes. For example, blends of cotton and lycra can be the perfect combination between softness and ease when washing and drying.
● Portable fans can become your best friends!
● Keep weight under control, as obesity is a risk factor for hot flashes during menopause.
● Exercise regularly, as it helps your body self-regulate its temperature by enhancing vascular function, but be careful not to overheat yourself!
● You may try acupuncture, as it seems to bring about good results for many women when reducing the severity of hot flashes (21).

When to see a doctor

Hot flashes are a normal part of perimenopause and menopause, but if they disrupt your daily or night activities, then it’s probably time to see a doctor. Prepare for the visit by making a list of your symptoms, the duration of your hot flashes, how many you have during the day, and any other details you remember. It can also be useful to account for any other medications you may be taking (as well as natural herbs) and their doses.

Most of the time, doctors will diagnose hot flashes based on your symptoms, though some of them may order blood tests to check your levels of FSH and LH and make sure you’re going through menopause (22).

Final Thoughts

All in all, experiencing hot flashes is extremely common and, many times, inevitable. But if you’re wondering if you’ll have to endure these annoying personal heat waves foreve, you’ll be glad to know that you don’t. You have medications and herbs available to limit the duration and severity of these hot flashes.

Dressing in layers, using a fan, drinking cold beverages and exercising regularly can also become your best allies when dealing with these annoying menopause symptoms. With the right information and the help of your doctor, soon you’ll regain control over your body and your health, too!


Learn where you are in your menopause / perimenopause journey with the help of a personalised report.



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