No one likes hot flashes. While those who have never experienced them wonder why “just getting a little hot” should be a big deal, those suffering greatly from them say “Oh my gosh! These are awful!” Hot flashes can be downright miserable! The good news is, not only is it not normal/healthy, nor does everyone get them, but there are solutions to reduce and/or eliminate them completely!
Hot flashes are a flush of warmth that either stays localized in the face and/or chest, or encompasses most of the torso. They can be accompanied by red flushing or blotching of the skin, tingling or pin prick sensations, nausea, fatigue, sweating, rapid heartbeat, and actually feeling chilled just before or just after the hot flash. It’s not uncommon to see sweater on, sweater off throughout the day, or covers on, covers off several times a night.
Hot flashes are not just limited to women. Men have them too. Mostly men have them as a side effect of a medication they are taking or when hormone levels drop too low.
While investigating the “cause” of hot flashes, it’s important to differentiate between what causes them, what triggers them, what complicates them, and risk factors. You are more likely to get hot flashes if you smoke, are obese or even certain ethnicities.
Complicating factors would be things such as insomnia due to waking with hot flashes or lack of exercise because exercise brings them on.
Triggering factors include certain consumables such as caffeine, alcohol, sugar, spicy foods and hot (temperature) foods. Many medications trigger or cause hot flashes. Hot weather or a hot room can trigger a hot flash (or many!). Don’t deny a woman a cool room because you feel she can just “deal with” the hot flashes for the moment, because she can actually feel sick during a hot flash. Smoking can also trigger a hot flash.
What causes them is more complex. Because of the effect stress has on the organs, that weakening effect can not only cause, but the stress can also trigger a hot flash. That may be emotional stress, physical stress, nervous stress or embarrassed stress.
The causes can be grouped into 3 primary categories: organ/gland health (including medications used to respond to worsening organ/gland health), your nutrition (what you eat or don’t eat or drink), and your lifestyle (activity levels, toxic exposures, stress, etc.).
As a health detective, if we are to resolve hot flashes, we have to look at all the pieces of the puzzle responsible for hormonal imbalances. We need to know how each and every organ is doing its job – especially the liver, hypothalamus, thyroid, adrenals, pituitary, intestines, and even the fatty tissues play a role in hormonal balance.
Of course, we need to know about the diet, other supplements that may actually be worsening the condition, lifestyle and all the other risk factors, triggers, complicating factors and causes. Assessing all these things gives us the knowledge and the tools to resolve hot flashes forever!
©2019 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.