Today, we’ll be talking all about a condition that has been stereotypically associated with women. Sure, hot flashes have been linked to women who are going through menopause. But you’ll be shocked to find out that both men and even young women may experience hot flashes at some point in their lives.
So, what exactly are these hot flashes and how do they present themselves? What exactly triggers them and do people in Alaska complain of hot flashes? All great questions that I’ll be looking to answer shortly.
I’ll also let you in on some of the most effective prevention measures and treatments for hot flashes as well as some handy DIY remedies that you can use right from the comfort of your home. So grab a chair and some refreshments, kick your feet up and prepare to be cooler than a mint leaf because you just landed on the mother of all guides to everything you need to know about hot flashes.
What Is A Hot Flash?
Also known as hot flushes, a hot flash is an unyielding feeling of intense or extreme heat in some regions of the body without any external heat sources. These intense feelings of warmth are mostly felt over the face, neck, and chest with the effects spreading all over the rest of the body.
Typically, your skin might turn red in the affected areas as if you were blushing. But if you lose too much body heat from a flush, then you might feel very chilly afterward. The overwhelming sensation of heat can either appear suddenly from nowhere or gradually allowing you to feel it coming on. Normally, the symptoms of hot flashes last anywhere between a few seconds to half an hour.
Now, hot flashes occur when the blood vessels close to the skin surface dilate in an effort to cool you down leading to sweating. But while medical conditions can cause them, they are largely associated with a menopausal transition. There are also plenty of other causes and risk factors, but we’ll look into that later on. First, how do you know it’s a hot flush and not a fever or just too much sun?
Symptoms Of Hot Flashes
As we’ve already seen, a hot flush is accompanied by a feeling of intense heat with excessive sweating and a rapid heartbeat. As opposed to fever or heat strokes, hot flashes last for only a short period and end as rapidly as they begin. Similarly, the sensation seems to begin from the face, work its way down to the neck, back, then chest and finally the rest of the body.
In addition to being an internal sensation, the surface of the skin becomes incredibly hot to the touch during such an episode; hence the origin of the name hot flush. This excessive heat and reddening of the skin can lead to premature rosacea.
Hot flashes typically range from mild or infrequent to severe events that occur dozens of times each day. Similarly, flushes are more frequent and intense during hot weather or while you are in heated rooms and environments. More severe cases of hot flash can make it hard to sleep at night which can, in turn, affect your mood, impair concentration as well as other physical problems. Here’s a convenient list of all the signs and symptoms of a hot flush:
- Sudden and intense feeling of warmth that lasts for seconds to minutes
- Redness of the face, neck, chest, ears, skin and other areas
- Excessive sweating especially in the upper body
- Tingling in the fingers
- Faster heart rate and palpitations
- Feelings of anxiety
- Feeling cold or chills as the hot flush lets up
Causes Of Hot Flashes
While the main cause of a hot flash isn’t exactly known, there is a clear connection with complex hormonal changes in the body as a result of the aging process. There’s also a connection to several health problems such as obesity, diabetes and other metabolic issues, but we’ll get to those later on.
Primarily, hot flashes are considered a characteristic symptom of the menopausal transition. As the estrogen levels fall, this has a direct effect on the hypothalamus which is responsible for controlling functions like sleep cycles, appetite, sex, hormones, and body temperature. Now, for some reason (no one exactly knows why), this drop in estrogen levels confuse your body’s thermostat making it read too hot.
The brain responds by broadcasting a message to the nervous system and blood vessels to get rid of the excess heat immediately. As a result, the heart pumps faster, your blood vessels dilate, and sweat glands release even more sweat to cool you off.
Normally, this heat releasing mechanism is what keeps the body from overheating during hot days. But when this process is triggered by estrogen drops, the confused response from the brain can make temperatures rise over six degrees from nowhere. As you can imagine, this can be very uncomfortable and miserable leaving you soaking wet in the middle of a meeting or at night.
Other causes, triggers and some risk factors for hot flashes include:
- Alcohol, caffeine, and smoking
- Spicy foods and hot drinks
- Stress and anxiety
- External heat sources
- Tight clothing
- Spinal lesions
- Some medications
Prevention, Treatment And Remedies For Hot Flashes
While it’s not possible to altogether avoid the symptoms of hot flashes during menopause or as a result of the aging process, the lifestyle choices you make will have a huge impact on your body.
Living a healthier lifestyle and making some changes might help reduce both the incidence and severity of the flashes and even help reduce the risk of associated diseases. Some of these changes can help manage and prevent hot flashes include:
- Dressing in layers to allows for temperature adjustments
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Avoiding spicy foods
- Regular exercise
- Limiting how much alcohol you take
- Limiting hot beverages and caffeinated drinks
- Stop smoking
2. Treatments for Hot Flashes
If the lifestyle changes don’t work and the symptoms of your hot flashes are getting more severe, then it’s time to move on to more stronger measures. Depending on the cause and severity of the attacks, your doctor may prescribe certain prescription drugs or medical procedures. I’ve highlighted some of the most common medical treatments for hot flashes below.
a) Antidepressants and Prescription Medications
A very low dose of paroxetine is actually the only non-hormone treatment for hot flashes that has been approved by the FDA. However, other antidepressants such as Venlafaxine, Fluoxetine like Prozac and Sarafem have also been used to offer relief for the symptoms of hot flashes.
Other prescription medications that might offer relief include Gabapentin which is an anti-seizure medication and Clonidine which is typically used to treat blood pressure. While helpful, these medications may not be as effective as some of the other treatments here. What’s more, they all come with side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, dry mouth, weight gain, constipation, nausea and sexual dysfunction.
b) Hormone Replacement Therapy
Primarily, estrogen is the main hormone used to offer relief for hot flashes caused by menopause. Women who have had a hysterectomy can take estrogen alone, but those with their uterus should add some progesterone to protect against endometrial cancer.
If a woman chooses to undertake hormone therapy, it is advisable to take the lowest dose for symptom alleviation. But while taking estrogen might relieve most of the symptoms associated with menopause, it also increases the risk of stroke, breast cancer, dementia, as well as other long-term risks.
c) Nerve Block Procedure
A medical procedure referred to as stellate ganglian block has shown immense promise for managing moderate to severe hot flashes. Ideally, it involves injecting an anesthetic in a particular cluster of nerves found in the neck. This treatment works great for pain management as well as reducing the intensity of the hot flashes. However, most people do not enjoy the regular injections to the neck.
d) Essential Oils
Having seen all the side effects that accompany the above medical treatments, it’s not surprising that many people prefer alternative and more natural solutions. Sure, some of these pharmaceuticals do offer a certain degree of relief for the symptoms, but they aren’t without their risks.
When you really think about it, who wants to risk cancer and other life threatening side effects just to beat a hot flash? And apart from the toxicity and severe health risks, pharmaceuticals are super expensive in the long run.
But that’s not even my primary concern. As you’ve seen, western medicine, drugs, and pharmaceuticals only offer short term relief for the immediate symptoms. What we really need is something that not only addresses the root causes and imbalances that cause hot flashes, but does so without wreaking havoc on other parts of our bodies.
Ladies and gentlemen, that something is Mother Natures very own gift to mankind – essential oils. These precious oils offer an incredible array of benefits that go above and beyond the call of duty to heal. I could tell you all about it, but why not let the oils speak for themselves?
7 Best Essential Oils For Hot Flashes
1. Clary Sage
When it comes to hot flashes, Clary Sage essential oil has to be the holy grail of all remedies. No matter which essential oil book or guide you’re reading, it’s guaranteed to be the top recommended oil for all things feverish.
Clary sage is highly valuable and crucial for balancing hormones, especially those associated with thermal activity. In addition to improving digestion, lowering blood pressure, inspiring mental clarity, sage oil is also a sedative that relaxes hot flashes in all genders and reduces insomnia.
Clary sage EO is also a godsend for women going through menopause. This nifty little oil relieves most of the symptoms of PMS, eases rough menstrual cramps and drastically cuts down the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. Its unrivaled ability to regulate female hormones makes it a number one must-have essential oil for women over 40.
Like most of the oils on this list, peppermint is well known for its broad range of applications; all of which come in useful at offering relief for hot flashes. For starters, the incredible cooling properties of peppermint make it perfect for dealing with the hot part of hot flashes.
Similarly, the sweet and captivating scent of peppermint allows it to refresh, uplift, improve concentration and reduce mental fatigue. What’s more, peppermint essential oil boasts of anti-inflammatory and sedative properties soothe achy joints, ease congestion, combat headaches and limit the intensity of hot flashes.
Here’s another must have essential oil for hot flashes. See, we already established that stress is a major contributor when it comes to anything to do with hormonal imbalances. With hot flashes, stress is an incredibly powerful trigger. This is where Geranium essential oil comes to the rescue. It’s aromatherapeutic, sedative and detoxifying qualities allow it to calm, cleanse and detox the body enhancing elimination.
Similarly, this heart cleansing oil lessens anxiety and stress levels, alleviates mood swings, reduces anger and irritation while promoting feelings of contentment and euphoria. And because Geranium is a powerful regulator of hormone secretions, it’s the ideal pick for treating symptoms linked to menopause and PMS.
Lavender is another incredibly popular oil that is known far and wide for its medical and therapeutic qualities. In addition to helping balance out your hormones and soothing perineal discomfort, lavender essential oil induces feelings of relaxation and even improves and uplifts your mood.
However, it’s people who suffer from regular night sweats and insomnia who will really benefit from using lavender. It’s balancing, sedative, anti-inflammatory, and aromatherapeutic properties make it great for reducing night sweats and promoting a good night’s sleep.
Whenever someone says Cypress, chances are that they’re talking about wood and timber. But while this particular oil is more often than not overlooked, it has proven to be a useful ally in the fight against flushes.
Apart from helping build both hormonal and emotional balance, Cypress essential oil boasts of detoxifying properties that are especially useful in limiting fluid retention and cutting down on cellulite. What’s more, it also has some cooling properties that make it great as a topical application for heat relief.
Here’s another essential oil whose activities are so medicinal that they actually resemble what doctors use for hormone replacement therapy. We’ve already established that menopause is a major contributor for hot flashes.
So, instead of treating the symptoms, Basil essential oil offers a way for women to increase estrogen levels in their bodies. As a result, this leads to reduced intensity and frequency of hot flashes as well as elevated moods.
I’m sure most of you here are no strangers to the wonderful and immense medicinal benefits of lemon. As one of the most widely used natural remedies for everything from colds to all sorts of ailments, lemon needs no introduction.
Lemon essential oil works as a natural tonic for soothing indigestion as well as improving the absorption of nutrients in the body. Similarly, the detoxifying nature of lemon makes it great for cleaning out the endocrine system and controlling cases of excessive sweating.
5 Essential Oil Recipes For Hot Flashes
Recipe 1: Quick Hot Flash Massage Blend
- 12 drops Clary Sage EO
- 10 drops Geranium EO
- 8 drops Lemon EO
- 5 drops Cypress EO
- 2 ounces (60ml) of Coconut or Sesame carrier oil
Mix all the essential oils in a dark glass bottle and top it off with coconut carrier oil. Shake well and massage all over the body to combat the symptoms of hot flashes.
Recipe 2: Night Sweats Formula
- 10 drops Clary sage essential oil
- 10 drops lemon EO
- 6 drops Thyme EO
- 8 drops grapefruit EO
- 2 ounces (60 ml) choice of carrier oil
Dilute all the essential oils into your own choice of carrier oil and massage all over the body before going to sleep. Similarly, this formula can also be used during the day.
Recipe 3: Menopause Body Lotion
- 6 drops Basil EO
- 4 drops Lemon EO
- 3 drops Clary sage EO
- 2 drops Jasmine EO
- 2 drops Angelica Root EO
- 1 ounce (30ml) almond oil or body lotion
Combine all your ingredients and use it as a massage oil or lotion at least once a day. This blend will help reduce heat from your skin while also combating most of the symptoms of menopause.
Recipe 4: Cooling Mist for Unexpected Hot Flashes
- 12 drops Roman Chamomile EO
- 10 drops Peppermint EO
- 8 drops Clary sage EO
- 6 drops Basil EO
- 2 ounces of Witch Hazel extract
- Bottle of distilled water
Mix all the above ingredients and store in a small dark glass spray bottle and mist yourself whenever a hot flash creeps up on you. The essential oils will help give you a cooling effect as well as balance hormones and mood changes.
Recipe 5: Hot Flash Borage Seed Milk Bath
- 5 drops Borage seed oil
- 8 drops Clary sage EO
- 6 drops Geranium EO
- 4 drops Peppermint EO
- 5 drops Cypress EO
- Cup of Milk
Add all the required essential oils in the cup of milk and combine thoroughly. Fill your tub with warm water and add the milk-oil mixture while agitating the tub to disperse the oils. Soak in the tub for about half an hour while massaging any floating EO droplets into your skin.
6 Home Remedies For Hot Flashes
Have hot flashes left you in a permanent state of sweatiness and discomfort? It may come as a shocker to you, but it turns out that some remedies and treatments were just under your nose. If you don’t want to poison your body with pharmaceuticals and/or you don’t have the above essential oils, I’ve compiled some of the best home remedies that should sort you out. But remember, these remedies only attend to the immediate symptoms of hot flashes and don’t really do anything for the root cause.
1. Losing Weight and Exercising
Research shows that obesity and unhealthy body weight directly increase the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Engaging in regular physical activities not only helps kick excess weight, but it also improves your overall health and reduces toxins in your body. Getting at least two to five hours of moderate aerobic activity every week could help with hot flashes immensely.
2. Limit Alcohol and Cigarettes Intake
Here’s yet another solid reason for people to quit smoking and drinking. Due to nicotine’s incredibly stimulating effects, people who smoke are actually at a higher risk of experiencing severe and frequent hot flashes as opposed to their non-smoking counterparts. Similarly, alcohol has been known to wreak havoc on the nervous and hormone systems while also increasing the level of toxins in the blood. Quitting or at least limiting your intake of these things should drastically help reduce instances of hot flashes.
3. Loosen Up
As you would expect, tight clothing can make hot flashes seem more intense than they really are. What’s more, tight clothes make it harder for your body to cool down. So put away all your form fitting outfits and go for something more loose, comfortable, and stretchy. During the night, wearing pajamas made of cotton can help absorb excess sweat and keep you from drowning in your own bed.
4. Turn Down the Heat
If you usually experience hot flashes, then the best thing you can do is avoid heated situations at all costs. This includes keeping the heat low in your bedroom while as using fans, AC, cold compresses, frozen treats and any other cooling mechanisms you can get your hands on. Similarly, you can have a cold shower whenever possible to find instant relief from sudden hot flashes.
5. Relaxation Techniques
In addition to being one of the major triggers for hot flashes, stress actually releases epinephrine which causes an increase in body temperature. Avoiding stress at all costs by engaging in relaxing activities can really help reduce the intensity, severity, and frequency of hot flashes. Some of these activities include meditation, guided breathing, yoga, qi gong, tai chi, among others. Similarly, getting into a panic whenever a hot flash comes up only works to intensify the symptoms. So instead of rushing about to find relief, try to relax and perform as little activity as possible.
6. Black Cohosh
Black Cohosh is a herb that has been long used by Native Americans for an array of issues. This little herb has received an incredible amount of scientific attention due to its possible benefits for menopause and hot flash relief. But while the herb does offer relief for most of the symptoms of hot flashes, it is not really recommended for people with liver disease or jaundice.
There you have it my thermal challenged friends; I’ve bestowed upon you all the knowledge and information I know about hot flashes. Now, treating and managing the condition should be much easier after a little education. I hope you get a quick recovery and reduce the intensity and frequency of your hot flashes.
But before I wind up, I just urge all my readers to think twice before using some of the medications and pharmaceuticals designed for hot flashes. Sure, they may give you temporary relief, but the side effects associated with these pharmaceuticals can be devastating.
C’mon, no one wants to replace hot flashes with constipation, cancer, or other long term ailments. So while your hot flashes may be driving you up the walls, my advice is to try natural treatments and remedies that will not only treat the root cause of your flashes, but also won’t wreak havoc on your health in the process.