Hot flashes are the most common symptoms experienced by every woman, accompanied by a warm sensation that originates in the head and spreads along the neck to the whole body. With some experiencing about 10 flashes a day, others report having it once or twice a week.
Beginning at the age of 40-45, the symptoms appear and depart spontaneously, lasting for about six months to two years. Some women, however, report continuous bouts of hot flashes that fortunately, diminish in intensity and frequency with age.
Declining levels of hormones in the brain and reproductive organs is indicated by a myriad of symptoms, all of which are manifested differently and at different periods of time in women.
They are most often experienced by menopausal and perimenopausal women, but can also occur in diabetic patients immediately after meals, in younger women who are experiencing hormonal imbalances or ovarian disorders, patients with other medical conditions like sub-acute glaucomatous thyroiditis, etc. Read on and stay well informed about the commonly found symptoms in women that accompany hot flashes.
10 Symptoms Of Hot Flashes
A Red Alert
Described as an “Aura”, people most often experience an intense feeling of uneasiness accompanied by a slight nausea, before having a hot flash.
Sometimes, they experience immense anxiety, as intense as a panic attack, while anticipating the occurrence of a hot flash. A mild or a severe headache can also serve as an indication of a hot flash being around the corner.
Intense feeling of Heat
A burning sensation of heat rushes throughout the body, moving up the waist and chest eventually, affecting the neck and the head. This uncontrollable heat in the body causes suffocation, discomfort, dizziness or nausea in patients. Most women describe the phenomenon of hot flashes as a thermostat that switches on and off and at one point reaches its highest intensity causing a burning sensation in the body.
The amount of sweating depends on your age, diet, the stage of menopause, the amount of heat generated in the body, as well as other medical conditions and medications that you are taking. In an attempt to cool down your body, the sweat glands flush out sweat through the sweat pores present all over the body.
A few women are fortunate enough to just get away with a lip sweat but in others, the amount of sweating can be comparable to the sweating, a person experiences after running for about 10 kilometers. Hence, sweating can vary from being mild to profuse, depending upon the extent to which the blood vessels close to the skin undergo dilation.
The word hot flashes originated from the term “hot flushes” since, the sensation of heat is often accompanied by a visible reddening of the face. The intense heat in the body results in the dilation of blood vessels that are close to the surface of the skin. Hence, the skin appears flushed and red in color due to profuse sweating. Flushing of the face becomes very apparent in women with a light complexion.
Fluctuations in hormone levels can also lead to irregular heart beat or cardiac arrhythmia in women, making them consciously aware of their heart beats.
The heart seems to be beating relentlessly at an uncontrollable pace thereby increasing the heart rate to about 8-16 beats per minute. This increase in the heart beat enables the body to sweat profusely.
Chills can occur either before or after a hot flash. When it occurs prior to a hot flash, it alerts the person that a flash is eminent. However, when it occurs after a hot flash, it is welcomed with open arms since, the excess amount of sweat released is essentially the body’s own mechanism of quickly producing a cooling effect. This leads to the felling of cold chills all across the body. Hence, the aftermath of a hot flash mostly involves a cold and shivering in the body.
Disturbances in Sleep Patterns
The fluctuating levels of hormones in the body also tamper with the brain by disturbing the equilibrium of many neurotransmitter systems. Sudden decline in the levels of estrogen in the night is the main culprit behind causing hot flushes.
This leads to constant episodes of drenching night sweats that lead to awakening several times during the night and difficulty falling asleep again. These daily alterations in sleep patterns leads to major sleep disturbances and an un-refreshing sleep, causing irritability, distractions and tiredness during the day. In fact, the rates of depression in post menopausal women are much higher, most likely due to the sleep disturbances that lead to serious mental problems.
The unpredictability of the occurrence of a hot flash can keep women constantly anticipating a flash thereby, inducing the fear of facing the embarrassment of having one in social gatherings. This makes them extra worried and stressed out, which in turn forces them to avoid social situations.
The amount of anxiety mounts ever higher than before, when they start avoiding work and friends due to the fear of the next hot flash. However, it is important to understand that hot flashes are not an illness and a phenomenon that every women in her life will and has experienced.
The sudden rise and fall in the body temperature leaves the body exhausted. The patients experience dizziness, a feeling like the room is spinning and sometimes loses balance.
This can also cause headaches and an exhaustion that lasts from a few minutes to about an hour, depending upon the duration of the hot flash.
Poor Temper Control
The untimely, unpleasant bursts of heat can lead to poor anger management due to the stress and anxiety that the patient undergoes during a hot flash. Also sleep disturbances and the incapability to cope with the mental and emotional stress that the body undergoes due to the decline in most of the female sex hormones can cause aggressive behavior in women.
Even though, menopause is just a transition from a reproductive phase to a non-reproductive phase in a women’s life and not a disease, its symptoms can be aggravated by certain other medical conditions that the women has.
Hence, the symptoms differ for one woman who is predisposed to stress and depression thereby, disturbing her daily life to a great extent. While, in a few others, the symptoms do not show much and hot flashes are of hardly any concern to them.