Hot flashes are sudden sensations of heat in the body , especially in the upper body . Hot flashes are the most common symptom experienced by women during perimenopause and menopause.
Symptoms of hot flashes or hot flashes can vary for each woman, ranging from their severity to how long they appear. However, most women who experience hot flashes feel an intense sensation of heat over their face, neck, and chest.
Causes of Hot Flashes
The exact cause of hot flashes is not known. However, this condition is thought to be related to hormonal changes that occur in women during perimenopause or during menopause. However, not all women who enter perimenopause ( premenopause ) and menopause experience hot flashes .
This hormonal change is characterized by a decrease in estrogen levels which affects the center of body temperature regulation, namely the hypothalamus. As a result, the body will become more sensitive to changes in temperature.
Apart from menopausal women, hot flashes can also be experienced by sufferers of endocrine gland tumors, hyperthyroidism , carcinoid syndrome, or certain infectious diseases.
Hot flashes can also appear as a side effect of using opioid-type drugs, antidepressants , hypertension drugs, calcium channel blockers , blood vessel widening drugs, and steroids.
Hot flashes may occur more frequently or be more severe if a trigger is present, such as:
- Overweight or obesity
- Weather and hot temperature
- Spicy food
- Tight clothes
Symptoms of Hot Flashes
The main symptom of hot flashes is a hot sensation that appears suddenly and spreads over the upper body, especially the chest, neck and face . The duration of these symptoms is uncertain, but usually lasts from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. Hot flashes are also more common at night.
Other symptoms that can arise from hot flashes are:
- Redness of the skin of the face and neck
- pounding heart ( palpitations )
- Sweating, especially at night
- Chills after the hot flashes subside
- Feeling anxious
Depending on the underlying cause, the appearance of hot flashes can also be accompanied by other symptoms, such as:
- Heart rhythm disturbances ( arrhythmias )
- Weight loss for no reason
- Shaking ( tremors )
- Protruding eyes
- Trouble sleeping or insomnia
When to see a doctor
Check with your doctor if you experience hot flashes that interfere with your activities or cause difficulty sleeping. You are also advised to consult a doctor immediately if hot flashes get worse or occur more frequently.
As mentioned above, hot flashes can also be a symptom of other ailments. Therefore, immediately see a doctor if you experience hot flashes accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Allergic reactions, such as hives , coughing, and shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- The body feels weak
- Chest pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Confusion or loss of consciousness
Diagnosis Hot Flashes
The doctor will ask the patient about the symptoms felt, the last menstrual cycle, and the patient's medical history. Next, the doctor will perform a physical examination, including checking the patient's neck to see if there is thyroid swelling.
After that, the doctor will also carry out other tests if the patient is suspected of having certain diseases that can trigger hot flashes . These checks include:
- Blood tests , to measure levels of certain hormones and detect infection
- Thyroid test, to check the function of the thyroid gland
- Pregnancy ultrasound , to ascertain whether hot flashes are caused by pregnancy or not
- Scanning with a CT scan or MRI, to detect the presence of a tumor
Treatment of Hot Flashes
Treatment of hot flashes depends on the cause and severity. Treatment methods can be by administering drugs, therapy, adopting a healthy lifestyle, or consuming certain foods. Here is the explanation:
Administering drugs is a method that is considered the most effective in dealing with hot flashes , one of which is by using hormone replacement therapy . However, the implementation of this therapy must be in accordance with the recommendations of the doctor.
In order to relieve the symptoms of hot flashes , doctors can also prescribe medications to patients, such as:
- Low-dose antidepressants, such as fluoxetine, paroxetine, or venlafaxine
- Vitamin B complex and vitamin E supplements
Some of the therapies that can be done to overcome the symptoms of hot flashes are:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy , namely counseling therapy that is useful for helping patients respond more positively to the appearance of hot flashes
- Meditation , to calm the mind and deal with stress that can trigger hot flashes
If the symptoms of hot flashes are still mild, the doctor will advise the patient to change his lifestyle. The application of a healthy lifestyle that can be done to reduce hot flashes trigger factors , namely:
- Wear light and comfortable clothes
- Using a fan or air conditioner to help lower the room temperature
- Cold compresses to areas of the face, neck or chest that feel warm
- Drink lots of cold water when hot flashes start
- Implement a healthy diet
- Avoiding foods and drinks that can trigger hot flashes
- Exercise regularly to help lose weight
- Stop smoking habit
Eating foods that contain isoflavones has also been shown to help relieve symptoms of hot flashes . Isoflavones are compounds that have benefits similar to estrogen. Some foods that contain high isoflavones are:
- Whole wheat
Hot Flash Complications
Hot flashes can cause complications in the form of sleep disturbances and disruption of daily activities, thereby reducing the quality of life. In addition, several studies have shown an increased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis in women who experience hot flashes.
Prevention of Hot Flashes
Hot flashes can't always be prevented, but triggers can be avoided. The trick is to adopt a healthy and balanced nutritional diet , exercise regularly, stop smoking, and manage stress well.
Other efforts that can be made to avoid the appearance of hot flashes at night are:
- Keeps the atmosphere and bedroom temperature cool
- Take a warm bath before going to bed
- Do not use sleeping pills
- Avoid consuming caffeinated and alcoholic drinks at night