Notes from a Doctor: The Tides of Menopause/Hot Flashes

A hot wave covering the face and upper half of the body, excessive sweating, and rapid heartbeat are familiar to four our of five women who celebrate their half-century anniversary. These hot flashes are a condition provoked by hormonal adjustments of the female body.

Their origin, duration, frequency of appearance, and severity are very individual. In some women, hot flashes begin before menopause; in others — after, they stop quickly, or continue periodically for many years, causing not only physical discomfort, but also psychological.

Causes of Hot Flashes in Menopause

It’s very strange, but despite the prevalence of this symptom, the causes of the phenomenon are not fully understood. Hot flashes are thought to be caused by low levels of estrogen, a sex steroid hormone. Although girls who go through puberty also have a low rate of estrogen, they do not have hot flashes. Perhaps the answer to this question is not so simple.

During a woman’s fertile age, the following sex hormones are produced mainly in women’s ovaries:

  • estradiol,
  • estriol, and
  • estron, (which is produced during menopause).

The body begins to adjust to work in a state of estrogen deficiency. This provokes the development of a number of not too pleasant symptoms, such as hot flashes, increased nervousness, and sudden mood swings.

Triggers for the Tides of Menopause

  1. Estrogen deficiency in the hypothalamus, which is responsible for thermoregulation, an erroneous signal about overheating of the body.
  2. In response, estrogen reacts with the release of substances, and the effect is similar to an increase of adrenaline: the heart rate increases, and then through the enlarged vessels, blood pours to the face and upper body, which causes intensive sweat.
  3. This condition is called “hot flashes,” and it is provoked by the fading function of the ovaries and, as a result, hormonal adjustment of the body.

According to experts, the course of menopause is strongly influenced by a woman’s lifestyle. Less intensively, and sometimes even unnoticed, the restructuring of the body occurs in women who lead an active lifestyle.

Some drugs, emotional state, bad habits (i.e., smoking, drinking alcohol) may be a factor in the intensification of hot flashes. Hot foods and drinks, spicy and salty dishes, and caffeine can also increase hot flashes.

Early, natural menopause, surgery and drug therapy can also exacerbate the course of menopause, frequent hot flashes, or long periods of their appearance.

Symptoms of Hot Flashes in Menopause

Women, approaching forty, often wonder what are the tides at menopause? This condition is on the ear, and in plain sight.

Some, especially sensitive women, feel the tide. However, in most cases the tide starts suddenly:

  • The whole upper part of the body — face, neck, shoulders heats and there may be blush.
  • Temperature at high tides rises; the heartbeat increases; its rhythm is disturbed; and there is a lack of air.
  • This state lasts anywhere from thirty seconds to one hour (the average is two to three minutes) and ends with the abundant release of cold sweat, causing chills.

Attacks are characterized by varying degrees of severity. In some women, they are not too intense, but in others, they are strongly expressed. They can be accompanied by a feeling of increased anxiety, irritability, and dizziness with bouts of nausea, or migraines up to the fainting state. Sometimes sweating is so strong that you need to change immediately.

Night tides at menopause are called night sweats. Through sleep, the heat remains unnoticeable, but the woman wakes up cold and wet from the cold sweat. The consequences of night tides can be the development of insomnia, negatively affecting memory, concentration, vivacity, and mood. Regular disorders of night rest lead to stress, reduced immunity, weight gain, and increased likelihood of pathologies of the nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine system.

Often enough, hot flashes occur in the evenings after the end of the working day, so women suffering from this pathology are advised to rest more and not to overwork.

The severity of menopause determines the frequency and duration of hot flashes. For example, the slower the level of estrogen in the body, the easier and more imperceptible the restructuring takes place. In the vast majority of women, the body adapts to work in a scarce mode for a year or two, sometimes up to three years. About a fifth of women experience this period between five and ten years, and for a very small number, for the rest of their lives.

Hot flashes and night sweats are the first signs of the body’s restructuring, which is associated with the fading of the childbearing function. These characteristics are not the most threatening to a woman’s health. The consequences and complications of estrogen reduction can be much more serious.

Female sex hormones are integral for almost all organs; their importance should not be underestimated. Female sex hormones do the following:

  • prevents the deposition of cholesterol plaques on the walls of vessels, protecting them from the development of atherosclerosis, which provokes pathologies of the vessels of the brain and heart;
  • provides normalization of calcium metabolism, absorption of bone tissue and prevent the development of osteoporosis (women over fifty years often suffer from osteoporosis, dangerous habitual fractures and poor bone splicing); and
  • provides natural hydration of the skin and mucous membranes of all organs (with the onset of post-menopause, more and more women feel dryness, contributing to the introduction of pathogens and the development of the inflammatory processes.

Modern drugs allow women to slow down the rate of decline of estrogen in the and as painlessly as possible to help the female body to adapt to the existence of new conditions.

What Should You Do?

If hot flashes do not cause much inconvenience, women rarely go to the doctor with this problem.

But the pathological course of menopause, accompanied by frequent intense tides, is an excuse to seek medical help from a gynecologist.

Depending on the presence of comorbidities, the doctor can prescribe an appropriate examination.

Treating Hot Flashes During Menopause

The state of the female body in the fading of reproductive function can hardly be called a disease, because no woman can avoid this process. Conversely, it is also not considered a healthy period for women. Hormonal treatment (hormonal replacement therapy) is considered the most effective type of therapy for estrogen deficiency, because it eliminates hot flashes and can improve a woman’s quality of life. Replacement of sex hormones is shown in the case of pronounced menopause: hot flashes, night sweats, heart rhythm disorders, insomnia, signs of depressive state, increased fatigue, and/or atrophy of urogenital organs.

However, even in cases where a woman has no contraindications to hormone replacement therapy, it is better to first use treatment without hormones.

Hormone therapy is not primarily  prescribed to women over sixty-five years of age.    

Everyone is different, so consult with your doctor first.

Nutrition

  • The main part of the diet should be vegetables, including raw, in the form of salads. It has been established that vegetarians almost do not suffer from hot flashes. Probably phytosterols, contained in plant food, help to cope with age-related hormonal changes.
  • It is advisable to replace morning coffee with green tea. Coffee stimulates the nervous system; green tea has a softer and opposite effect.
  • Vitamins are important. Therefore, the diet should contain products containing fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grain bread, dairy products, fish, lean meat. Do not abuse alcoholic beverages or spicy dishes. All this can provoke tides.
  • To restore psychological and emotional balance, it is recommended to promote the production of serotonin with the help of such uplifting products as chocolate, dates, dried apricots, bananas, oatmeal, red bell pepper.

However, if you are overweight, then please do the following:

  • Keep an eye on your calories;
  • Avoid fried foods;
  • Reduce the amount of food per serving;
  • Consume more caloric meals in the morning; and
  • Limit salt.

Including soy products, such as meat, milk, cheese, and tofu is also advised.


Dr. Lydia

Dr. Bachurina Lydia was born in the Republic of Uzbekistan in 1971. Since childhood, she wanted to be a doctor. After school she graduated from the Tashkent Medical Institute, worked as a therapist for four years, and then worked in cardiology for three years. After moving to Russia, she was certified and worked as a geriatrician for four years. Dr. Lydia is married with two sons and maintains “Beauty and Health Blog from LiDea” dedicated to medicine. She currently lives and works in Russia.

Follow Dr. Lydia on Twitter @xBXQjNpKwqIj8RI @Лидия


3 Comments on “Notes from a Doctor: The Tides of Menopause/Hot Flashes

  1. Pingback: Блог красоты и здоровья от LiDea

  2. Pingback: Hell Ain’t Hotter – Navigating the Change

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