Really? Who knew?! Me, for one!
I’ll admit my naïveté when I first started alvöru to make clothes for peri/menopausal women, as that was when I first experienced hot flashes and night sweats. There were plenty of websites to provide statistics, facts, and figures that validated a need for clothing to help menopausal women. But, with research and talking with women customers who weren’t experiencing menopause symptoms, I found that there are numerous other causes for hot flashes. Some of the most common ones include:
Thyroid problems such as hyperthyroidism, which causes an overabundance of thyroid hormone, can increase the body’s metabolism and lead to hot flashes, heat intolerance, sweating, rapid heartbeat, and insomnia. If you’re approaching menopause, check with your doctor to distinguish menopause symptoms from thyroid symptoms
Food and additives like your five-alarm, extra-spicy meal probably gets its kick from red peppers. They have capsaicin, which confuses your nervous system to react like you’re being burned. Sulfites and sodium nitrate (in meats like salami, bacon, cured ham) may cause flushing. Too much MSG (monosodium glutamate), often used in Asian cooking, may set off a hot flash in those who are prone to them.
Alcohol and one of the chemicals that results when your body breaks it down will widen the blood vessels that supply your skin. Fermented drinks like beer and wine may have other chemicals – histamine, sulfites, or tyramine – that have a similar effect. If your liver doesn’t process alcohol well, or if you drink while taking certain medications, your hot flashes may be worse.
Medication side effects can include flushing. Some heart and blood pressure medicines, high doses of steroids, chemotherapy drugs, and painkillers can affect your hormone balance.
Blushing even a small, healthy emotional response can set a hot flash off! Your nervous system gets triggered, your blood vessels widen and the resulting rush of blood into your skin raises its temperature.
Stress accompanied by a rush of adrenaline can produce a feeling of warmth like a hot flash, so if you live a stress filled life, you may set off this reaction.
Neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, MS, spinal injury, and nerve damage are affected by your autonomic nervous system which controls things that you don’t have to think about, like breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and sweating. Anything that throws off how it works can cause hot flashes.
Migraine and Cluster Headaches these painful and sometimes disabling headaches can also mess with your autonomic nervous system. Your brain doesn’t process messages from the nerves in your head and neck about touch, pain, temperature, and vibration correctly.
Can’t tell what’s causing your hot flashes? Keeping a diary with notes about your hot flash episodes and what you were doing, eating, and feeling, along with any medications you had taken is a great place to start. Then look for a pattern. It if’s still not clear after a couple of weeks, see your doctor (bring your diary) for a blood test to link your condition with menopausal symptoms. If she doesn’t find levels consistent with menopause itself, she may do other testing and suggest lifestyle changes that may reduce or eliminate the causes of hot flashes.
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