A hot flash is an unpleasant phenomenon that occurs mostly in women, mainly related to hormonal changes. In women, menopause is a peak time for hot flashes because it causes hormonal upheaval. Estrogen secretion decreases and leads to hormonal imbalance which upsets the regulatory mechanism of body temperature, thus causing hot flashes. It is difficult to get rid of hot flashes. They occur for an average of three to five years and occur regularly, up to several times a day and a few days per week. Seven out of ten women are affected, yet there are ways to reduce the impact. Note that hot flashes are also experienced at the time or just before the onset of menstruation in some women.
Depending on the profile of the patient, the doctor will not diagnose hot flashes but rather menopause. For this, he will conduct a complete physical examination accompanied by a medical questionnaire. The consultation with the doctor or gynecologist may give rise to additional tests such as:
- a blood test;
- hormonal balance test with the measuring of estrogen and FSH;
- A mammogram is often also given.
If the patient is too young to be menopausal, a hormonal disorder, due particularly to the pituitary gland or thyroid, may be suspected.
Hot flashes are manifested by a feeling of intense heat on the upper part of the torso, neck and face, suddenly appearing and disappearing spontaneously. Hot flashes can lead to redness, sweating, chills, and more rarely vertigo. They mainly occur at night. At the time of menopause, women may experience up to ten hot flashes per day, each lasting up to thirty minutes.
The most prescribed treatment against hot flashes is hormone replacement therapy, though the latter is not without side effects. It will fill the hormonal gap caused by the stop in the production of estrogen and progesterone. Certain family histories of diseases such as breast cancer or thromboembolic disease do not allow for hormone therapy. To reduce hot flashes in women, other molecules are used such as tibolone.
It is possible to prevent hot flashes or decrease their intensity by adopting a healthy lifestyle: eat healthy, avoid alcohol, tobacco and stimulating drinks, avoid situations of stress and overexposure to heat.