Senior Spotlight

Hot flashes are the sudden feeling of warmth in the upper body, usually most intense over the face, neck and chest.
Your skin may blush and it cause you to sweat. If you lose too much body heat, you might feel chilled afterward. Night sweats are hot flashes that happen at night and may disrupt your sleep.
Other medical conditions can cause hot flashes but are most commonly due to menopause.
In fact, hot flashes are the most common symptom of menopause. The frequency and intensity of hot flashes vary among women varying from a minute or two or as long as 5 minutes.
Hot flashes may be mild or so intense that they disrupt daily activities and can happen at any time of day or night. On average, symptoms persist for more than seven years.
Hot flashes are most commonly caused by changing hormone levels before, but it’s not clear exactly how this happens.
Research suggests they occur when decreased estrogen levels cause your body’s thermostat (hypothalamus) to become more sensitive to slight changes in body temperature. When the hypothalamus thinks your body is too warm, it starts a chain of events to cool you down.
Rarely, they are caused by something other than menopause. Other potential causes include medication side effects, problems with your thyroid, certain cancers and side effects of cancer treatment. Not all women who go through menopause have hot flashes, and it’s not clear why some women do have them.
Risk factors include:
*High body mass index (BMI) is associated with higher frequencies of hot flashes.
*More black women report having hot flashes during menopause than do women of other races, while Asian women report them less frequently.
Discuss the pros and cons of various treatments with your doctor. If hot flashes don’t interfere with your life, you probably don’t need treatment. Hot flashes subside gradually for most women, even without treatment.
If your hot flashes are mild, try managing them with these lifestyle changes: *Keep cool; *Dress in layers so that you can remove clothing when you feel warm; *Lower the room temperature; *Sip a cold drink; *Hot and spicy foods, caffeinated beverages and alcohol can trigger hot flashes.
Mayo Clinic
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