Hot flashes in Perimenopausal Women
are the most common symptom in the premenopausal period. The symptoms are characteristic of a heat-dissipation response and consist of sweating on the face, neck, and chest, as well as peripheral vasodilation and intense, internal heat feeling.
Hot flashes can occur day or night; when they occur at night, they are called night sweats.
Hot flashes start with a sudden increase in sweating. The heart rate increases anywhere from 5 to 25 beats/min. Cutaneous vasodilation occurs and blood flow to the skin increases.
With the sudden and rapid increase in heat loss (sweating and cutaneous vasodilation), internal body temperature drops.
The appearance of hot flashes coincides with estrogen withdrawal, but this does not explain the phenomenon fully. Estrogen levels are identical in symptomatic and asymptomatic women.
Hot flashes are triggered by small elevations in core body temperature, acting within a reduced thermoneutral zone in symptomatic postmenopausal women.
Decreased estrogen levels cause the thermostat of the body (in the hypothalamus) to become more sensitive to slight changes in body temperature.
When the hypothalamus senses that the body temperature is too warm, it starts a chain of reactions to cool down. These reactions are the hot flashes.
Men can also experience hot flashes, particularly when testosterone levels fall rapidly, such as in men with prostate or testicular cancer treated medically or surgically.
Severe hot flashes disturb a good night sleep.
Hot flashes in young females are a red flag for eventual pituitary gland problems.
Anxiety can also cause symptoms such as hot flashes.
Treatment and advice possibilities
Exercise significantly increased the severity of hot flashes with no change in their occurrence.
Relaxation-based procedures can help:
• Deep and slow breathing exercises.
• Muscle relaxation.
• Relaxation therapy reduces the intensity of the hot flashes, not the frequency.
Staying away from hot climates or sun holidays is helpful.
Keep the bedrooms cold during sleep.
Don’t consume hot drinks.
Avoid chronic stress.
Oral hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can relieve the symptoms.
Hormonal replacement therapy with patches seems to reduce the symptoms with less side effects than the oral HRT.