If you’re like most women over 50, you experience hot flashes from time to time. While the majority of hot flashes occur during menopause, they can happen at any age.
Take me, for example. I’m currently 67 years old, well past menopause (it’s a distant memory at this point,) and yet just about every day I experience a type of hot flash.
What’s up with that? I want to know, my friend. So if you experience any of those hot flashes, hot flushes, or sweaty moments, stay with me and we’ll learn together.
We’ll learn more about what causes hot flashes besides menopause. And more importantly, what can you do about them? In this blog post, we’ll discuss the causes of hot flashes and ways to deal with them.
Please keep in mind that I am writing this as a woman in midlife; I’m not a health care professional. The information below is sourced and verified and should be received as helpful information written by a lay person.
If you struggle with hot flashes and other uncomfortable sensations, please talk with your doctor as they could be a sign of a health condition that needs attention.
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- What Exactly is a Hot Flash
- Is There a Difference Between a Hot Flash and a Hot Flush?
- Hot Flashes Do Not Respect Our Age
- What Causes Hot Flashes Besides Menopause?
- When to Seek Medical Help
What Exactly is a Hot Flash
A hot flash is a sensation of warmth that spreads over the body and is often followed by sweating. Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause, but they can also occur during perimenopause (the transition to menopause) and, as some of us know all too well, even after menopause.
While the exact cause of hot flashes is unknown, they are thought to be related to changes in hormone levels. For most women, hot flashes are a temporary nuisance. However, in some cases, they can be severe enough to interfere with daily life.
If you’re experiencing hot flashes after menopause, there are several things you can do to help ease your symptoms.
We’ll discuss more actions you can take a bit later, but here a a few quick tips. Avoid foods or drinks that trigger hot flashes (such as spicy foods or caffeine) and try to manage stress levels by getting regular exercise and getting enough sleep.
Is There a Difference Between a Hot Flash and a Hot Flush?
A hot flash is a sudden feeling of warmth, often accompanied by a flush or redness on the face and chest. Hot flashes are usually associated with menopause, but they can also be caused by certain medications or medical conditions.
A hot flush is basically the same thing as a hot flash, but the term is more commonly used in the UK. There is no difference between a hot flash and a hot flush other than cultural interpretation. If you’re experiencing hot flashes (or flushes, depending on where you live), try to stay cool and avoid triggers such as caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods. More about that below.
Hot Flashes Do Not Respect Our Age
You’re not alone if you’re experiencing hot flashes. In fact, they can occur at a wide variety of ages, including well after menopause.
Hot flashes and hot flushes are caused by a sudden drop in estrogen levels. This causes the blood vessels to widen, resulting in increased blood flow and a sudden feeling of warmth. Most women experience hot flashes and hot flushes during menopause, but they can also occur during perimenopause (the transition to menopause) and postmenopause (after menopause).
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to hot flashes, but there are some things you can do to help manage them. These include avoiding triggers (such as hot drinks or spicy foods), staying cool (with air conditioning or fans), and managing stress levels.
What Causes Hot Flashes Besides Menopause?
We know what hot flashes are, and of course, we know very well how they feel. We’ve even learned the medical terms describing what happens inside our bodies when we feel them.
But besides menopause, what else can cause them and what can we do about it?
What we eat and drink
There are a few things you can do to help reduce the incidence or severity of hot flashes or hot flushes.
One is to avoid certain trigger foods. These include spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, and processed sugars. If you eat a lot of these foods, you may want to cut back gradually to give your body time to adjust.
You might also want to eat more foods that contain phytoestrogens, which are plant-based compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Good sources of phytoestrogens include soy products, broccoli, carrots, coffee, oranges, and tea, to name a few.
Finally, make sure to stay cool and comfortable. Wear loose, breathable clothing and keep a fan handy for when hot flashes strike.
Medication we’re taking
Some women may experience hot flashes as a result of certain prescription medications. For example, certain antidepressants and blood pressure medications can cause hot flashes or hot flushes.
If you are taking any medication that is known to cause hot flashes, talk to your doctor about alternative options.
There are also some lifestyle changes that can help to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes. These include avoiding triggers such as spicy foods and caffeine, managing stress, and staying cool. If you are struggling with hot flashes, talk to your doctor about ways to manage them.
You might not associate being overweight with hot flashes, but for women who are past menopause, the two can be linked. Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause, and they can be brought on by sudden changes in temperature.
When you’re overweight, your body has a harder time regulating its temperature, which can trigger hot flashes.
In addition, fat cells produce estrogen, and as menopause causes estrogen levels to decline, the additional estrogen from fat cells can exacerbate hot flashes. Losing weight may not eliminate hot flashes completely, but it can help to reduce their frequency and severity.
So if you’re carrying extra weight and dealing with hot flashes, consider making some changes to your diet and exercise routine to lose weight. You might just find that you feel better all around.
Certain food allergies or sensitivities can also trigger hot flashes.
If you’re a woman who is past menopause and struggling with hot flashes, it might be worth investigating whether or not you have any food allergies or sensitivities.
Common triggers include dairy, gluten, soy, eggs, and nuts. Eliminating these foods from your diet could help to reduce the frequency and severity of your hot flashes.
Of course, it’s always best to consult with a doctor or nutritionist before making any major changes to your diet. But if you’re looking for relief from hot flashes, it’s worth considering whether food allergies might be the culprit.
A bedroom that is too warm
According to a study done by the National Sleep Foundation, up to 60% of postmenopausal women experience nighttime hot flashes. Hot flashes are most likely to occur during perimenopause (the transition into menopause) but can continue for years afterward.
For some women, hot flashes can be so severe that they wake them up from a sound sleep. In addition to making it difficult to fall asleep, hot flashes can also cause night sweats, which can lead to insomnia. While there is no cure for hot flashes, there are things that you can do to lessen their frequency and severity.
One of the most important things is to keep your bedroom cool – ideally between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, consider these tips and suggestions:
- follow a healthy and consistent bedtime routine
- Use lightweight sheets and blankets instead of heavy quilts and comforters.
- Wear light pajamas or sleepwear made from natural fabrics such as cotton that breathe well.
- Keep a cool-mist humidifier in your room to add moisture to the air and help you feel cooler.
- You might also want to try using a fan to circulate the air and create a pleasant breeze.
You should also consider avoiding the triggers that can make hot flashes worse, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating spicy foods. By taking these simple steps, you can help minimize the disruptiveness of hot flashes and get a better night’s sleep.
Stress in our life
It’s a fact of life that stress can cause all sorts of problems, from headaches and ulcers to anxiety and depression. And for women who are past menopause, stress can also result in hot flashes.
The good news is that there are things you can do to reduce the amount of stress in your life and help keep those hot flashes under control.
First, try to identify the sources of stress in your life and find ways to eliminate or reduce them. If that’s not possible, then find ways to better cope with the stressors you can’t eliminate. That might mean learning relaxation techniques or exercising more regularly.
Whatever you do, don’t try to tough it out on your own. Talk to your doctor or a counselor about the best ways to deal with the stress in your life.
When to Seek Medical Help
Hot flashes are a common symptom during menopause and usually go away on their own after a few years. However, some women continue to experience hot flashes for many years.
If you are over the age of 50 and have been experiencing hot flashes for more than a year and they are disrupting your daily life, you may want to seek medical help. There are several treatments available that can help to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
In addition, your doctor can check for other conditions that may be causing your hot flashes, such as thyroid problems or low levels of estrogen. If you are experiencing hot flashes, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about treatment options.
As women who are past the joys of menopause, we feel entitled to live hot flash-free, but that is not always the case.
For me, it’s a matter of paying attention to what I am eating and drinking, because I think that is what is causing the hot flashes I experience quite regularly, even though they are mild and don’t last more than a minute or so.
How about you? Did anything on that list of possible causes ring particularly true? Each section includes some ways to deal with the issue, so consider putting some of them into practice.
Overall, though, living a healthy lifestyle and making wise choices in nutrition and exercise will only help up conquer the hot flash annoyance.
And, if you find that these hot flash symptoms persist and are disrupting your life, or you think there may be an underlying medical condition, please see your doctor.
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