We all may have experienced it at some point or the other probably after eating something spicy or a sudden spurt of anxiety. A hot flash can come unannounced and leave you restless and uncomfortable. An intense feeling of warmth emanating from chest and spreading over face and neck, sometimes accompanied with sweat, can leave you wondering what’s wrong with you. Hot flashes at night especially can disrupt your sleeping schedule. Some people may experience it even in an air-conditioned room. A typical symptom of menopause, hot flashes have some surprising triggers. (Also read: Effective ways to manage hot flashes during office hours or between meetings)
“Hot flashes are a common symptom experienced by women going through menopause. However, they can also be triggered by a variety of other factors, some of which may surprise you. It’s important to remember that everyone’s triggers may be different, and what causes hot flashes in one person may not affect another. If you are experiencing hot flashes, keeping a journal of your symptoms and what triggers them may be helpful. This can help you identify and avoid your specific triggers as much as possible,” Dr Smita Satpathy, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, CARE Hospitals, Bhubaneswar told HT Digital. (Also read: Traditional drinks to manage hot flashes)
SURPRISING TRIGGERS OF HOT FLASHES
Here are surprising triggers of hot flashes shared by Dr Satpathy you must be aware of:
1. Spicy foods: Eating spicy foods, particularly those with capsaicin, can trigger hot flashes in some people. Capsaicin is a chemical found in chili peppers that can cause your body temperature to rise, leading to a hot flash.
2. Alcohol: Consuming alcohol can also trigger hot flashes. Alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate, which can increase body heat and cause a hot flash. Additionally, alcohol consumption can disrupt sleep, which can also lead to hot flashes.
3. Stress: Emotional stress can also trigger hot flashes. Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which can increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, leading to a hot flash.
4. Caffeine: Consuming caffeine can also trigger hot flashes in some people. Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause blood vessels to dilate, increasing body temperature.
Dr Anita K Sharma – Senior Director & Head – Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Max Hospital Vaishali says that night sweats could be due to declining oestrogen levels in the blood for pre-menopausal women and which in turn can cause changes in temperature perception by the hypothalamus in the brain.
Dr Sharma adds some more triggers of hot flashes to the list.
5. Cigarettes: Smoking cigarettes has been linked to an increased risk of hot flashes in women, especially during menopause. This is because smoking can affect the body’s hormone levels, including oestrogen, which can contribute to hot flashes. Additionally, smoking can cause blood vessels to constrict, which can lead to a sudden surge of heat in the body, triggering a hot flash.
6. Tight clothing: Wearing tight clothing can make hot flashes worse, especially during menopause. Tight clothing can restrict blood flow and trap heat in the body, making it more difficult for the body to regulate its temperature. When the body overheats, it can trigger a hot flash.
TIPS TO AVOID HOT FLASHES DURING THE DAY AND AT NIGHT
Dr Sharma also suggests certain tips to avoid hot flashes apart from avoiding the above-mentioned triggers.
– At night special care should be taken to ensure that the bedroom is cool.
– Bed linen and night garments should be cotton or of some other organic material.
– The last meal should be light and at least two hours prior to bedtime.
– Other helpful, lifestyle choices are deep breathing, meditation, yoga, exercise, dancing and swimming. It is important to keep the mind occupied with useful pursuits.
– Live mindfully and bear in mind that a third of a woman’s lifetime is in the post-menopausal phase and can be as productive and fulfilling as the rest.