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Hot Flashes: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Feb 13, 2024

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Causes Of Hot Flashes

Symptoms Of Hot Flashes

Risk Factors Of Hot Flashes

Diagnosis Of Hot Flashes

Treatment Of Hot Flashes

Therapy with hormone replacement

Antidepressants

Additional prescription medications

Technique for Nerve Blocks

Complications Of Hot Flashes

Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are defined as sudden, intense warmth in the upper body, commonly felt over the face, neck, and chest. It's possible to experience a flushed complexion. A heat flash may potentially cause sweating. Having lost too much body heat may make you feel cold. The term "night sweats" refers to hot flashes that happen at night and may cause insomnia.

Although they can also be brought on by other medical conditions, hot flashes are most commonly triggered by menopause, which is the time when menstrual periods become irregular and eventually stop. The most common symptom of the menopausal transition is really hot flashes.

Hot flashes that hurt can be treated in a lot of ways.


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Causes Of Hot Flashes

Hormonal changes that take place before, during, and after menopause are the most common cause of hot flashes. It is unknown what specific hormonal change causes hot flashes. 

The preponderance of research, however, suggests a potential explanation for hot flashes: a decrease in estrogen increases the sensitivity of your body's thermostat, the hypothalamus, to even little changes in body temperature. When the hypothalamus detects that your body temperature is too high, it attempts to cool you down by triggering a hot flash.

Hot flashes and night sweats are almost exclusively caused by menopause. Adverse drug reactions, thyroid problems, certain cancers, and side effects from cancer treatments are other potential causes.

Also Read: Vulvodynia: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Symptoms Of Hot Flashes

In the event of a flash heat, you might

  • An unexpected feeling of warmth running through your face, neck, and chest
  • Red, splotchy skin when flushed
  • An elevated heart rate
  • Sweat, mostly on the upper body 
  • A cold feeling when the hot flash subsides.
  • Feelings associated with anxiety
  • Heat flashes occur in women in varying frequencies and intensities. One to five minutes can pass in a single episode.

Hot flashes might be mild or severe enough to cause problems for daily activities. They could happen at any time of day or night. Hot flashes, also referred to as night sweats, have the power to keep you awake and cause long-term sleep disturbances.

While each woman has hot flashes at a different frequency, most women who report having them say they happen daily. Hot flashes usually last for seven years on average. Some women have owned them for more than a decade.

Also Read: Morning Sickness: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Risk Factors Of Hot Flashes

Although they are not a common symptom of menopause in women, hot flashes have an unknown cause. Several factors may increase your susceptibility to attacks:

  • Cigarette use: Women who smoke are more prone to hot flushes.
  • Obesity: A high body mass index is associated with a higher frequency of hot flashes (BMI).
  • Ethnicity: Hot flashes during menopause are reported by black women more frequently than by women of other races. The least number of Asian women report having hot flashes.

Also Read: Perimenopause: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Diagnosis Of Hot Flashes

Your doctor may diagnose you with hot flashes if you tell them about your symptoms. Your doctor could advise blood tests if you're unsure if you're going through the menopausal transition.

Also Read: Placenta Previa: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Treatment Of Hot Flashes

Although taking estrogen is the most effective way to lessen the discomfort that comes with hot flashes, this hormone is not without risks. If you start taking estrogen before the age of 60 or within ten years of your last menstrual cycle, if that is appropriate for you, the benefits might exceed the risks.

Hot flashes may also be lessened by drugs, such as antidepressants and anti-seizure medications, however, they are less effective than hormones.

Discuss with your physician the advantages and disadvantages of various therapies. If hot flashes don't interfere with your regular activities, you generally don't need treatment. Most women have a progressive decrease in hot flashes even without medication, however, it may take several years for them to end.

Therapy with hormone replacement

Oestrogen is the primary hormone used to reduce hot flashes. Most people who have survived a hysterectomy can take estrogen by itself. To prevent endometrial cancer or cancer of the uterine lining, if you still have a uterus, you should take progesterone in addition to estrogen.

For any regimen, the therapy has to be tailored to your needs. Guidelines advise taking the lowest effective dose possible for symptom control. How well hormone therapy strikes a balance between your benefits and hazards will dictate how long your treatment will last. The goal is to maximize your quality of life.

Some women using progesterone in addition to estrogen therapy may experience unpleasant effects connected to progesterone. For women unable to take oral progesterone, menopausal symptoms can also be managed with Duavee, a combination drug containing conjugated estrogens and bazedoxifene. 

Similar to progesterone, bazedoxifene plus estrogen may help reduce the increased risk of endometrial cancer brought on by estrogen alone. Benzodiazepines may also protect your bones.

If you have had or are at risk for breast or endometrial cancer, heart disease, stroke, or blood clots, see your physician regarding the appropriateness of estrogen therapy.

Antidepressants

The sole nonhormone treatment approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for hot flashes is Brisdelle, a paroxetine low-dose formulation. Hot flashes have also been treated with the following antidepressants:

  • Venlafaxine 
  • Citalopram 
  • Escitalopram
  • Acetaminophen

These medications can be helpful for women who are unable to utilize hormones, even though hormone therapy is still the most effective treatment for severe hot flashes. Possible side effects include nausea, exhaustion or difficulty sleeping, weight gain, dry mouth, or problems with reproduction.

Additional prescription medications

Some ladies may find comfort in these additional medications:

  • Gralise, Neurontin, and more gabapentin brands: Heat flashes can be somewhat reduced by the anti-seizure medication gabapentin. Potential adverse effects include exhaustion, edema, fatigue, and dizziness.
  • Pregabalin, also known as Lyrica: Pregabalin is another anti-seizure medication that may help reduce hot flashes. Possible side effects include weight gain, drowsiness, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Oxybutynin: The most popular use of oxybutynin, either as a tablet or patch, is for the management of urinary problems, such as overactive bladder. It might also assist in easing hot flashes for some ladies. Potential adverse effects include dry mouth, dry eyes, nausea, constipation, and dizziness.
  • Clonidine: Hot flashes may be lessened by the medication or patch known as clonidine, which is widely used to treat high blood pressure. Dry mouth, drowsiness, vertigo, and constipation are a few of the adverse effects.
  • Veozah: Menopausal hot flashes are treatable with the medication veozah. It doesn't contain any hormones. It functions by obstructing a brain circuit that aids in controlling body temperature. You take one oral pill every day. Elevated liver enzymes, back pain, stomach problems, hot flashes, and diarrhea are some of the negative effects. Take this medication with caution if you have liver problems.

Technique for Nerve Blocks

Stellate ganglion block has shown promise in the treatment of moderate-to-severe hot flashes, while further research is necessary. This surgery involves injecting anesthetic into a group of neck nerves. With the drug, pain has been effectively managed. Bruising and pain at the injection site are instances of side effects.

Also Read: Pap Smear: Uses, Preparation, Procedure and Results

Complications Of Hot Flashes

Hot flashes may have an impact on your quality of life and everyday activities. Night sweats also referred to as hot flashes, might cause you to wake up and disrupt your sleep for an extended amount of time.

Research suggests that women who experience hot flashes may be more prone than non-suffering women to heart disease and bone loss.

Also Read: Polyhydramnios: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

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