A sudden feeling of warmth begins to rush over your face, neck, and chest. Your skin flushes, your heart beats faster, you begin to sweat. It sounds like the buildup from some Valentine’s Day rendezvous, but for 75% of women approaching or in menopause, it’s called a hot flash. Hot flashes are a token characteristic of menopause. They can be mild and annoying or even severe enough to interfere with daily life. Let’s discuss some common questions surrounding hot flashes.
What causes hot flashes?
The exact cause of hot flashes remains unknown. It is believed that changes to the part of the body that regulates your temperature, the hypothalamus is a source. When the hypothalamus mistakenly senses that you are too warm, it will kick off the chain of events to cool you down. The blood vessels near the skin’s surface will enlarge to encourage more blood flow to dissipate the heat.
How long do hot flashes last?
There is no way to tell when hot flashes will start or stop. For every woman, it is different. Most women experience them from 6 months to 2 years. Other women may experience them for up to 10 years, and for a few, they never go away.
What are the treatments for hot flashes?
Prescription drugs and hormone therapy offer relief of symptoms for those with bothersome hot flashes. Estrogen therapy and estrogen-progestogen therapy for women with a uterus are the standard treatments. For women unable to take hormones, certain anti-depressants have been proven to alleviate symptoms as well. Some women choose low risk coping strategies and lifestyle changes before, or in place of medications.
Do I need to see my doctor about hot flashes?
Not necessarily. If your hot flashes are not bothersome, you may choose not to seek treatment for them. However, if they have begun to interfere with your life, you should talk with your doctor. Other medical conditions can also cause hot flash symptoms, so if you are concerned at all, or are not approaching or in menopause, make an appointment.
Advancing Hot Flash Treatment Through Clinical Research
Clinical research helps us gain a better understanding of why conditions like hot flashes happen. Through this understanding, prevention and improved options are discovered. To learn more about currently enrolling hot flash studies at Women’s Healthcare Research, call (858) 505-8672 or click here.