What Can I Do About Hot Flashes
Hot flashes occur from a decrease in estrogen levels. In response to this, your glands release higher amounts of other hormones that affect the brain’s thermostat, causing your body temperature to fluctuate. Hormone therapy has been shown to relieve some of the discomfort of hot flashes for many women. However, the decision to start using these hormones should be made only after you and your healthcare provider have evaluated your risk versus benefit ratio.
To learn more about women’s health, and specifically hormone therapy, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health launched the Women’s Health Initiative in 1991. The hormone trial had 2 studies: the estrogen-plus-progestin study of women with a uterus and the estrogen-alone study of women without a uterus. Both studies ended early when the research showed that hormone therapy did not help prevent heart disease and it increased risk for some medical problems. Follow-up studies found an increased risk of heart disease in women who took estrogen-plus-progestin therapy, especially those who started hormone therapy more than 10 years after menopause.
The WHI recommends that women follow the FDA advice on hormone therapy. It states that hormone therapy should not be taken to prevent heart disease.
Practical suggestions for coping with hot flashes include:
When Does Menopause Occur
Although the average age of menopause is 51, menopause can actually happen any time from the 30s to the mid-50s or later. Women who smoke and are underweight tend to have an earlier menopause, while women who are overweight often have a later menopause. Generally, a woman tends to have menopause at about the same age as her mother did.
Menopause can also happen for reasons other than natural reasons. These include:
Premature menopause. Premature menopause may happen when there is ovarian failure before the age of 40. It may be associated with smoking, radiation exposure, chemotherapeutic drugs, or surgery that impairs the ovarian blood supply. Premature ovarian failure is also called primary ovarian insufficiency.
Surgical menopause. Surgical menopause may follow the removal of one or both ovaries, or radiation of the pelvis, including the ovaries, in premenopausal women. This results in an abrupt menopause. These women often have more severe menopausal symptoms than if they were to have menopause naturally.
Causes And Solutions For Feeling Hot From Anxiety
- Those that struggle with anxiety may feel like they are hot or cold
- The cause of feeling hot is a malfunctioning fight/flight system
- Though not typically dangerous, anxiety can cause flashes of high blood pressure and vasoconstriction
- The hot flashes themselves cannot typically be stopped, but it is possible to be more comfortable
- Only treating anxiety will stop anxiety-related hot flashes permanently
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Talk About It With Someone You Trust
Menopause can raise a number of thorny issues changes to your body image, sex life, and identity dealing with the shift in fertility and reacting to the societal expectations around menopause.
And those are just a few things that can arise.
People in many cultures feel additional anxiety about discussing symptoms openly.
You may find it helpful to talk about your symptoms and any other menopause-related issues with an online or in-person therapist. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be especially effective for treating anxiety.
If one-on-one therapy doesnt appeal to you, you might see whether theres a support group devoted to menopause or anxiety issues nearby.
Food Allergies Or Sensitivities
Almost all of us experience something like a hot flash when we eat very spicy foods, but alcohol, caffeine, and additives like sulfites are also some common triggers. It is thought that spicy foods that give food some heat and alcohol are vasodilators and expand your blood vessels, Dr. Wider explains. But if you have an unidentified food allergy or intolerance, something else in your diet could be the cause, Battaglino explains.
Cool off: Pay attention to how your body reacts the next time you ingest any of the foods above and you may find a correlation. If that doesnt help, consider speaking with your doctor or a registered dietitian about a structured elimination diet.
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Hot Flashes Keeping You Awake At Night Blame The Cortisol
Acute stress is associated with an abrupt rise in cortisol, a glucocorticoid hormone released from the adrenal gland. In healthy adults, cortisol concentrations rise abruptly within thirty minutes of awakening , and diminish throughout the day with the lowest concentrations in the evening. Blunted cortisol responses, as indicated by diminished awakening response or a lower diurnal variation/concentration, likely reflect chronic illnesses or stressors, while increased evening cortisol can accompany chronic stress, insomnia, and sleep disturbances.
Diurnal salivary cortisol patterns in healthy adults are well established but have not been studied in menopausal or post-menopausal women with hot flashes. Cortisol patterns in women bothered by hot flashes may vary from those not experiencing hot flashes for a couple reasons: 1) hot flashes associate with stress and anxiety and 2) estrogen, a sex hormone that fluctuates during menopause, may affect cortisol secretion.
To address this question, Drs. Susan Reed, Katherine Guthrie, and colleagues examined daily salivary cortisol concentrations and patterns in midlife women with hot flashes. Specifically, the researchers sought to evaluate the potential differences in cortisol by hot flash frequency and the factors that might influence cortisol concentrations and patterns in these women. The results from their study have been recently published in Clinical Endocrinology.
Find Ways To Manage Stress
Chronic stress can have an impact on the bodys regulation and contribute to an increased risk of early menopause. Managing stress is an essential step to reducing stress impact on the body. Some women may find that certain techniques are better to help them reduce stress than others. However, there are two things that women can change and improve to help them manage stress impact on their overall health, diet and exercise.
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Q: Can Hormone Therapy Ease My Emotional Problems During Menopause
A: While theres growing evidence that hormone therapy can help with emotional symptoms, it alone is not effective in treating more severe mental health conditions. Your doctor my prescribe medication for anxiety or depression. Counseling also helps treat the psychological symptoms.
You may feel better after menopause ends and your hormoneslevel out. But talk to your doctor as soon as possible to start the righttreatments.
Can Stress Cause Hot Flashes
If you’re menopausal, it can seem like your hot flashes pick the worst possible moments to kick in. You’re racing to an appointment, refereeing a family squabble or pitching a new client when the flushing and sweating begin. That may not be a coincidence: Experts say stress can trigger hot flashes.
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Anxiety Panic Attacks And Perspiration
Sometimes its easy to figure out why youre perspiring. If youre outside in the sun on a hot day and you start to sweat, it makes sense that your body would want to cool down. If youre worried about a big presentation and your hands get clammy, thats anxiety.
Where it starts to get tricky is when you go beyond run-of-the-mill nerves and shift into severe anxiety a.k.a. panic attacks, or anxiety thats so severe and sudden that it disrupts day-to-day life. Anxiety symptoms include feeling an overwhelming sense of doom. Many people also tremble or shake, get short of breath, or feel like theyre out of control. Its not uncommon to feel out of control, have a strong sense of dread or doom, or imagine youre having a heart attack or dying.
Sweating and a racing heart are also common, which explains why a panic attack might be confused with a menopausal hot flash.
What Are Hot Flashes
Hot flashes, also known as vasomotor symptoms, are a common symptom of the menopausal transition, or perimenopause. A person is said to be in menopause 12 months after their last period .
The menopausal transition can happen anywhere between the ages of 45 and 55 and can last from 7 years up to 14 years for some.
A shows that more than 80% of women in menopause get hot flashes. However, this research doesnt take into account transgender or gender-nonconforming persons who also experience menopause and hot flashes.
The length of time a person will experience them varies significantly, ranging from 3 to 11 years .
Hot flashes typically feel like a wave of intense heat in your chest, neck, and face. They can lead to sweating, red skin, and an elevated or irregular heartbeat.
They generally last between 30 seconds and 10 minutes and end with the chills as the heat leaves your body.
Many people who get hot flashes experience them at night, often referred to as night sweats. You might wake up flushed, drenched in sweat, and understandably uncomfortable.
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Q: Does Having Panic Attacks Mean You Have Panic Disorder
A: Not necessarily. Those with panic disorder have frequent panic attacks. And, in between, they worry about when the next one will strike and try to adjust their behavior to head it off. But a single or a few isolated panic attacks dont mean you have a panic disorder.
Women who were prone to anxiety in the past or who had postpartum depression are sometimes more likely to have a panic disorder during menopause. But any woman can develop one.
Panic disorders can be hard to identify because somesymptoms, such as sweating and palpitations, mirror those that many womenexperience anyway during perimenopause and menopause. But, just because a panicdisorder is not easily diagnosed, that doesnt mean that it doesnt exist orthat you cant treat it.
Q: Is There A Link Between Menopause And Depression
A: Changes inhormone levels may influence neurotransmitters in the brain. The drop inestrogen levels can also lead to hot flashes that disturb sleep, which can thenlead to anxiety and mood swings.
If you experience symptoms of depression nearly every day for two or more weeks, you might be depressed. Talk with your doctor about finding a treatment that will work for you. Your doctor will also want to rule out any medical causes for your depression, such as thyroid problems.
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Take Good Care Of Yourself Mind And Body
If looking back on the hormonal upheaval of your teenage years fills you with compassion, lavish lots of care upon yourself now.
Eat rainbows of healthy vegetables and muscle-building protein which are vital as you get older.
Take time and space to create things. Numerous have shown that art, music, drama, and dance help people prevent and manage stress.
And consider taking a mindfulness course. In a
Is There A Direct Relationship Between Stress & Early Menopause
Is stress a direct cause of early menopause? Not necessarily, but it can contribute to many other factors that can cause women to enter into early menopause. Women with natural estrogen deficiencies, most likely from genetics, are observed to have a higher risk of early menopause when exposed to chronic stress. This is because chronic stress can make stress hormones behave similarly to toxins in the body that make it more difficult for cells to regulate themselves.
Women with certain autoimmune disorders may also experience early menopause or premature ovarian failure when exposed to chronic stress. Stress hormones modulate cellular energy by impacting the functions of cell mitochondria. When this occurs, it limits the effectiveness of cells and how they perform their roles. Chronic stress levels may contribute to the premature decline of sex hormones in women with certain autoimmune conditions and other preexisting conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, turners syndrome, and endometriosis.
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How Hot Flashes Happen
Hot flashes are themost common symptom reported by menopausal women. These brief surges in body temperature tend to occur most during perimenopause, which is the stage that precedes the total absence of your periods .
Although the exact mechanism that causes hot flashes is not fully understood, hormonal changes clearly play a starring role. Your estrogen level and progesterone level can be pretty erratic during perimenopause. In addition to controlling your monthly cycle while youre still menstruating, these hormones also send signals to the hypothalamus, better known as your brains thermostat. The hormonal fluctuations associated with menopause can mess with the hypothalamus so that you end upthinking your body temperature is higher than it actually is.
One theory is that transitioning to a menopausal status narrows your thermoneutral zone the temperature range in which you arent sweating or shivering. As a result, it becomes a lot easier for you to go from feeling comfy to overheated in a snap.
Whenever your body thinks its too hot, it takes action to cool you down: Blood flow to your skin increases hence, the hot flushes and you sweat, cooling down as the moisture evaporates.
How Long Do Hot Flashes Last
The intensity and frequency of hot flashes vary. Some people experience them multiple times a day, and others will only have the occasional hot flash. Hot flash episodes usually last anywhere from one to five minutes at a time.
On average, hot flash symptoms last for seven or more years before and after menopause, though some people may have them for 10 years or longer.
The time at which you first start having hot flashes may indicate how long youll get them. For example, research has found that people who had hot flashes before menopause experienced them for nearly 12 years, compared to people who had their first hot flash after menopause, who experienced them for three years, on average.
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What If Its Both Menopause And Anxiety
While it would be nice to be able to keep menopausal hot flashes and anxiety in two totally separate boxes, the truth is that these problems sometimes overlap. Someresearch suggests that women who have pre-existing anxiety disorders might be more likely to experience hot flashes when they approach menopause, though the reason why isnt totally clear.
At the same time, many women find the menopausal transition stressful, even if they never meet the criteria for a full-blown anxiety disorder.
Whatever the root of your problem, dont ignore it especially if its making you uncomfortable or interfering with the overall quality of your life. Even if your hot flashes are unrelated to a serious anxiety problem, studies suggest that cognitive behavioral therapy help some womenbetter manage their perimenopausal symptoms.
Talk to your primary care doctor and consider seeing a mental health professional to discuss your anxiety and menopausal symptoms. And if you need help finding one, Alloy can point you in the right direction.
Alloy’s Recommended Treatment for Hot Flashes and Other Menopause Symptoms:
“Hot Flashes”. Breastcancer.org. https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/side_effects/hot_flashes
Freeman, Ellen W, and Mary D Sammel. Anxiety as a risk factor for menopausal hot flashes: evidence from the Penn Ovarian Aging cohort. Menopause vol. 23,9 : 942-9. doi:10.1097/GME.0000000000000662
Preventing Hot Flashes From Exercise
Interestingly, the results of a 15-week long Swedish clinical trial published in 2019 found that weight bearing exercise could help with hot flashes. After three weekly 45 minute resistance training exercises, the number of hot flashes women experienced almost halved.
If you do want to do some cardiovascular exercise and you certainly should for it will help reduce stress and keep your weight down, then do low-impact activities such as walking or a little cycling.
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The Hot And Cold Experience
These “Flashes” are really just changes to your body temperature. During periods of intense anxiety, your body temperature heats up due to vasoconstriction, which is when your blood vessels tense up as they deliver more blood to the areas involved in fight and flight.
Vasoconstriction causes your body to heat up, and this creates what’s known as a “hot flash.” Your body heat appears to come out of nowhere, giving it its “flash” effects.
But the body also has a way of cooling itself down after it heats up. As soon as you start to experience heat, your body also releases more sweat. That sweat then reaches the air, and you start to cool down – in some cases becoming very cold. This is the “cold flash.” Your body itself isn’t necessarily becoming colder, so much as it is reacting to the sweat that it released to cool down after the hot flash.
When these hot flashes and cold flashes occur at night, it’s often referred to as “night sweats.”
Why Can The Menopause Trigger Anxiety
Menopause is a natural part of ageing that occurs when oestrogen levels drop, but it can be a challenging time for many women. Officially defined as the time when your periods stop, the menopause – and the period leading up to it – can cause a host of debilitating physical and mental symptoms, such as anxiety.
Reviewed byDr Sarah Jarvis MBE
17-Oct-21·6 mins read
Anthea*, 51, started to experience anxiety and low mood when her periods began to get more erratic and heavy, before they stopped completely. She stopped sleeping and had to be signed off work five times in a year.
However, it was only when she began to read about the menopause and its effects that she realised it might be contributing to her mental health problems. “I felt tearful all the time,” she says.
After speaking to several different healthcare professionals, she eventually started counselling and hormone replacement therapy , which relieves the symptoms of the menopause by replacing hormone levels that have dropped. After six months, her mental health had improved and she was sleeping again, seeing friends and back at work.
Anthea is far from alone in her experience. Research has shown that the menopause and perimenopause – the time leading up to the complete cessation of periods – can have a significant impact on women’s mental health. According to a recent survey of 2,000 women, 86% said they had experienced mental health issues as a result. One in 10 even said they’d had suicidal thoughts.
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