Causes of Hot Flashes and How to Stop Hot Flashes

Older woman holding flower

Hot flashes are sudden flare-ups of warm skin, often causing drenching sweat that can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. They are most commonly associated with women going through menopause, which typically occurs for women in their 40s. This article will cover everything you need to know about hot flashes.

 

What Are Hot Flashes?

 

Woman Having a Hot Flash

 

Hot flashes are a rapid feeling of warmth, usually most intense over the face, neck, and chest, and profuse sweating, commonly due to menopause.

 

When you have a hot flash, the body heats up primarily in the upper part of your body around your chest and head. As a result, your skin might become red as if you were blushing, and you may also sweat profusely. These flashes can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes long.

 

Night sweats can also occur, which are hot flashes at night that may even wake you up during your sleep.

 

While hot flashes can occur from medical conditions, they are most commonly due to menopause. Menopause is the time in a women's life when menstrual periods become irregular and eventually stop. Hot flashes are among the most common symptom of menopause.

 

What Causes Hot Flashes?

 

Estrogen Decreasing Over Time

 

There are several causes of hot flashes, but the most common cause is a change in hormone levels that occurs before, during, and after menopause. Research on hot flashes suggests that they happen when decreased estrogen levels cause your hypothalamus to become more sensitive to changes in temperature. Since your hypothalamus helps control your body's internal temperature, increased sensitivity can cause fluctuations in body temperature, resulting in hot flashes.

 

It is rare for hot flashes to be from anything other than menopause; however, here are some additional potential causes: 

 

  • side effects of medications
  • thyroid issues
  • certain diseases 

 

What Is Menopause?

 

Woman experiencing a hot flash

 

Menopause occurs 12 months after a woman's last period. During the years leading up to menopause point, women may also experience hot flashes and changes in their monthly cycles, among other symptoms. This period leading up to menopause is the menopausal transition or perimenopause.

 

When Does Menopause Happen?

 

Perimenopause typically begins between 45 and 55 and lasts about seven years. It can, however, last up to as long as 14 years. This transition affects women differently and in unique ways.

 

The production of estrogen and progesterone can vary significantly during perimenopause. As a result, the body begins to use energy. Differently, fat cells change, and it is common for women to gain weight more quickly. As estrogen plays a role in more than just reproductive health, these fluctuations in estrogen levels can also result in changes in other areas of the body, such as:

 

  • bone or heart health
  • body shape
  • body composition
  • physical function

 

Why Does Menopause Happen?

 

Menopause occurs naturally when a woman's ovaries run out of functioning eggs. As a result, women are born with around 1 to 3 million eggs that, when fertilized by sperm, begin the process of child development. However, they lose eggs throughout a woman's life, and by menopause, a woman may have fewer than 10,000 eggs. 

 

When women run out of functioning eggs, they can no longer get pregnant naturally. So, menopause marks the time in a women's life when the window for childbirth is coming to a close.

 

Typically, a reproductive hormone called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is responsible for the growth of eggs during the first half of a woman's menstrual cycle. However, as menopause approaches, the remaining eggs become resistant to FSH, and the ovaries dramatically reduce their estrogen production.

 

This change in estrogen production has many effects throughout the body. For example, it is considered the primary cause of the symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes, chills, sleep problems, mood changes, weight gain, vaginal dryness, and more.

 

How Long Will Hot Flashes and Other Menopause Symptoms Last?

 

Menopause and menopause symptoms can last anywhere from 7-14 years. Hot flashes last on average around ten years, but this varies from person to person. Hot flashes typically occur at random and can be very unpredictable. They also change in intensity and frequency depending on the stage of menopause.

 

Premenopausal hot flashes typically begin in women in their early 40s; however, for some, it may even start in their 30s. During perimenopause, hot flashes generally are less frequent and less severe. 

 

Menopause itself, on average, occurs in women between the ages of 46 and 53. Hot flashes are most frequent in the two years following menopause. 

 

Women may have hot flashes anywhere from 4-10 years after menopause. Still, they will decrease in frequency and severity.

 

What Are the Risk Factors for Hot Flashes?

 

Certain risk factors may determine whether or not you get hot flashes, how often you get hot flashes, and how intense these hot flashes are. 

 

Some factors that increase the risk of hot flashes include:

 

  • Obesity. A higher frequency of hot flashes directly correlates to a higher body mass index (BMI).
  • Smoking. Studies suggest that smoking can increase your risk of hot flashes.
  • Race. Race and genetic background may also play a role in hot flash frequency and intensity.

 

How to Stop Hot Flashes Fast

 

Chasteberry Herb (Vitex) Isolated on White Backdrop

 

There are a few ways to stop hot flashes fast once they set it.

 

It is, of course, best to try to prevent hot flashes in the first place by keeping your body cool. For example, try to wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes made of natural fibers when you sleep to avoid hot flashes at night. Having a fan on may also help.

 

Additionally, it can be helpful to dress in layers so that you can easily remove a layer if you need be.

 

When a hot flash comes on, try sitting down (in a cool area if you can) and focus on deep, slow abdominal breathing, aiming for as little as 5 to 7 breaths per minute. Try practicing this in the morning and evening for 10 minutes and as soon as a hot flash starts.

 

Deep breathing can trigger your parasympathetic nervous system to kick in, which can help relax and cool your body and help regulate your temperature.

 

In addition to this, drinking cool water or ice water may also help to cool you down.

 

How Can You Prevent, Manage, Or Control Hot Flashes?

 

During menopause, hormone levels shift all the time. So there are two things to consider when it comes to preventing and managing hormones—managing symptoms and managing hormone levels themselves.

 

In this article, we're focused primarily on hot flashes as a symptom of menopause, but numerous others can occur. When they do, it is helpful to have a way to manage these symptoms, so they are less problematic.

 

For example, one can better manage symptoms by focusing on an excellent nighttime routine or with supportive natural herbs for sleep like passionflower or valerian root. In the case of hot flashes, it is helpful to keep yourself cool by wearing natural fibers. Some suggestions from our team are to wear layers that you can easily remove or add when needed and to keep water close by to cool you down if a hot flash starts. You may even want to consider purchasing a battery-powered fan to keep in your purse if a hot flash occurs when you are out and need some relief.

 

It is also important to avoid triggers that may cause hot flashes. Some common triggers include coffee, alcohol (especially red wine), and certain blood pressure or cholesterol medications. Suppose you are taking any of these medications and experiencing hot flashes. In that case, you may want to review your medications with your doctor.

 

In the case of dealing with hormone levels themselves, there are certain things you can do to maintain hormonal balance better and prevent fluctuations. Eating a healthy diet and avoiding processed foods, foods with excess sugar, and foods with toxins can support your body and your hormonal health. Foods with organic soy may also be helpful during this time, as soy is high in estrogen and may balance low estrogen levels caused by menopause. Regular moderate or low-intensity exercise can also be beneficial. Focusing on sleep quality and stress management are also critical, as physical and psychological stress can wreak havoc on hormonal health.

 

In addition, certain herbs may work wonders in helping you manage your hormone levels.

 

Shatavari, for example, is an herb that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for women's hormonal health. It helps regulate the endocrine system, enhances immunity, and helps the body cope with physical and emotional stress.

 

Black cohosh is another common herb for women's health that has been used for centuries by Native Americans. Today, it is an active ingredient in various women's health products and helps with menopause symptoms, fertility, and hormonal balance.

 

Wild yam is a plant native to North America, Mexico, and parts of Asia for treating menstrual cramps, PMS, rheumatism, and digestive problems.

 

Chasteberry is an herb that treats women's health issues, including reducing symptoms of PMS and menopause and helping to normalize estrogen and progesterone levels.

 

Evening primrose is another herb that is highly effective in treating premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause symptoms and helping to improve women's hormonal health.

 

Zuma Nutrition has combined these herbs into a single herbal formula for women's hormonal health. Our unique formula uses a therapeutic dose extraction process that makes them significantly more potent than teas, powders, or capsules.

 

Our Happy Hormones Tonic may help reduce menopause symptoms, balance hormone levels, improve hormonal health, regulate the menstrual cycle, provide PMS relief, and regulate and support the health of the endocrine system.†

 

Happy Hormones Tonic

 

The active compounds in these herbs can affect hormonal balance. Therefore, they may provide excellent support during this transitional period of life.

 

Summary

 

Hot flashes are sudden flare-ups of burning skin, often causing drenching sweat that can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. They are most commonly associated with women going through menopause, which typically occurs for women in their 40s. 

 

Menopause occurs 12 months after a woman's last period. During the years leading up to menopause point, women may also experience hot flashes and changes in their monthly cycles, among other symptoms. This period leading up to menopause is the menopausal transition or perimenopause.

 

Menopause occurs naturally when a woman's ovaries run out of functioning eggs. When this happens, women are no longer able to get pregnant naturally. So, menopause marks the time in a women's life when the window for childbirth is coming to a close.

 

Changes in estrogen production that occur during menopause can have many effects throughout the body and are the primary cause of the symptoms associated with menopause, such as: 

 

  • hot flashes
  • chills
  • sleep problems
  • mood changes
  • weight gain
  • vaginal dryness
  • among other symptoms

 

Menopause and menopause symptoms can last anywhere from 7-14 years. Menopause itself, on average, occurs in women between the ages of 46 and 53. Hot flashes tend to be most frequent in the two years following menopause. 

 

Certain risk factors may determine whether or not you get hot flashes, how often you get hot flashes, and how intense these hot flashes are. 

 

There are a few ways to stop hot flashes fast once they set it. It is, of course, best to try to prevent hot flashes in the first place by keeping your body cool. However, when a hot moment comes on, try sitting down (in a cool area if you can) and focus on deep, slow abdominal breathing, aiming for as little as 5 to 7 breaths per minute. Deep breathing can trigger your parasympathetic nervous system to kick in, which can help relax and cool your body and help regulate your temperature.

 

Focusing on holistic care of your health and well-being may help prevent hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. Eating healthy, avoiding toxins, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, and keeping stress levels low are critical to managing your hot flashes and menopause symptoms.

 

In addition, certain herbs, such as those in our Happy Hormones Tonic, may work wonders in helping you manage your hormone levels.

 

Menopause is a part of life and a time of great transition for women. Taking care of your body and focusing on self-care can help you move through this period more gracefully and hopefully with less uncomfortable symptoms like hot flashes.

 

 

 

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507826/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4890704/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539827/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6459071/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538260/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6206851/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30000866/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23136064/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4027291/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4029542/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11428178/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6718646/

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