Hot Flashes: The Most Distressing Hormone Imbalance Symptom
Hot flashes. One minute you are freezing, and the next you are drenched in sweat and red as a beet. You wake up at night because your bed is soaked with sweat. You have moments when you want to tear off all your clothes and run outside to get cooled off. Hot flashes are probably the most distressing hormone imbalance symptom there is.
No one knows the exact mechanism that causes hot flashes, but somehow a sudden drop in estrogen causes the hormone imbalance symptom. The hypothalamus responds to the drop in estrogen by dilating blood vessels in the skin and causing the heart to beat faster in an effort to radiate extra heat from the body. That results in the feeling of flushing, rise in skin temperature and sweating. It can also cause lightheadedness and even fainting.
Even though we don't know why we experience hormone imbalance symptoms like this, we can usually identify some of the things that make hot flashes more likely to occur. Some women experience hot flashes when they are tense or stressed. Other common triggers include alcoholic beverages, spicy food, caffeine, smoking, hot food and drinks, and being too warm.
Who Gets Them?
Most women experience some type of hormone imbalance symptom. It may be as mild as feeling too warm, or so severe you feel like you are suffocating and you soak your clothes with sweat.
Some women are more likely to experience hormone imbalance symptoms than others. The quicker the transition through menopause is, the more uncomfortable the hot flashes are likely to be. Women who experience surgical menopause often have very severe symptom, as do obese women, smokers and those who are taking tamoxifen to treat breast cancer.
Managing Hormone Imbalance Symptoms
There are many things you can do to manage hot flashes and other hormone imbalance symptoms. Some of them are:
- Dress in layers.
- Wear only natural cotton fabrics, which are more absorbent than other materials.
- Keep ice water handy and sip it during hot flashes.
- Take a cool shower before bed to help prevent night sweats.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid hot tubs, saunas, and warm rooms.
- Avoid hot drinks and hot or spicy foods.
- If you smoke, stop.
You can also use supplements and medications to manage hormone imbalance symptoms. Herbal supplements, such as black cohosh, are helpful for many women. Vitamin E and soy are also helpful.
Non-hormonal medications for hormone imbalance symptoms are marginally effective. Certain blood pressure medications and antidepressants are helpful sometimes.
The most effective treatment for hormone imbalance symptoms is hormone replacement therapy. It is also the most controversial, especially for women who have had breast cancer or who are at risk for heart disease. Bioidentical or synthetic hormones are both effective in treating the symptoms.
There are many ways to manage hormone imbalance symptoms. Each woman is unique in how she experiences menopause, and different remedies work for different women. By educating yourself and exploring the risks and benefits of the various options available to you, you can find the best treatment for your hot flashes.