What are Hot Flashes

Menopause brings about various physical and psychological symptoms, with hot flashes being the most common among women during menopause and perimenopause. Often referred to as hot flushes, these episodes involve a sudden sensation of heat, often accompanied by symptoms like a red, flushed face and sweating. When hot flashes occur at night with sweating, they are termed as night sweats, which can disrupt sleep.

The exact cause of hot flashes remains unclear, but it’s believed to be linked to elevated levels of gonadotrophins as the ovaries cease functioning. Unlike men, women experience hot flashes due to the rapid decline in female hormones during menopause.

Around 50% of women in menopausal age experience hot flashes, typically lasting for 1 to 2 years, though some may have them for longer periods. They can occur multiple times a day and may last from a couple of minutes to half an hour. Certain factors increase the risk and severity of hot flashes, including low body weight, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, race (more common in black women), and certain medical procedures or treatments that induce menopause.

Symptoms of hot flashes include sudden warmth spreading through the upper body, facial flushing, nausea, increased heart rate, sweating, and a subsequent chilled feeling. Treatment options range from self-care measures like healthy eating and regular exercise to hormone therapy, medications like antidepressants or gabapentin, and complementary treatments like phytoestrogens.

Hormone therapy, involving estrogen and progesterone, is considered the most effective treatment for hot flashes, as it helps regulate hormone levels and alleviate symptoms. However, the decision to pursue treatment should be discussed with a healthcare provider, especially if symptoms significantly impact daily life. Additionally, lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and alcohol can also help manage hot flashes and improve overall well-being during menopause.