Question

Menopause

What triggers hot flashes?

A Answers (11)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    Hot flashes during menopause can be triggered by environmental factors, foods and lifestyle. When a woman transitions into menopause she has less estrogen. Although we don’t totally understand hot flashes, we think that when a hot flash occurs something with the thermoregulatory center in the brain is triggered that increases the body's core temperature very quickly. In an effort to cool you down, the body dilates blood vessels in the skin and you begin to sweat. Then you get cold when the air hits your wet skin and your core body temperature is reduced.

    Many women say that hot flashes and facial flushes come more frequently when they are hot, overdressed, or after eating spicy foods or drinking hot liquids. Alcohol, caffeinated beverages or tobacco smoking can also cause you to have more of them -- so if you are getting frequent hot flashes, avoiding triggers is a good place to start.
  • AMichael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answered

    Your body temperature is controlled by a thermostat in your brain called the hypothalamus. When the hypothalamus’s normal processes are disrupted, extreme surges in temperatures result. Now, researchers aren’t sure exactly what causes the disruptions, but waning estrogen may put you more at risk. Apparently, the estrogen stabilizes blood vessels. When estrogen levels fall, blood vessels expand and contract in a more unpredictable fashion, and the rush of blood is associated with a hot flash or flush. These flushes occur especially when you surround yourself with or indulge in triggers like stress (no surprise), hot temperatures, spicy food, caffeine, alcohol, tight synthetic clothing, and smoking. However, triggers aren’t the same for everyone, so keep a diary so you can figure out what you need to avoid like the plague.


    Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.
  • AJudy Caplan, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

    Fluctuation in hormone levels can trigger hot flashes. In menopause estrogen levels are diminishing causing all kinds of symptoms, one of which are hot flashes. Alcohol, chocolate, exercise, coffee, and overheated rooms can trigger a hot flash. Even stimulants like tea can set off a hot flash. Sometimes hot flashes come on for no apparent reason other than a woman is going through menopause.

  • ARealAge answered

    Hot and humid weather, hot drinks, alcohol, stress, smoking, chocolate, spicy foods, and foods with a high-acid content (e.g., citrus, tomatoes, or strawberries) are all known triggers of hot flashes during menopause.

  • ASarah LoBisco, Integrative Medicine, answered

    Hot flashes occur as a result of fluctuations of various hormones within the bloodstream. It's these changes in hormonal levels that signal the hypothalamus, the body's thermometer, to adjust the body’s temperature. If the fluctuation is pronounced, hot flashes can occur.

    Various triggers exist. They differ depending on the woman. Some of these include stress, spicy foods, nutritional deficiencies, food sensitivities, neurotransmitter levels, and imbalanced hormonal ratios.

    Every woman has a specific ratio of hormonal levels related to her health status. Stress is a big player in this ratio.  The adrenal glands, responsible for the output of the stress response, also help support hormonal balance when the ovaries begin to decrease in production of estrogen. If one is chronically stressed, the possibility for large fluctuations in hormonal patterns and therefore hot flashes can occur. This is because the adrenal glands are producing less estrogen and more of the stress hormone, cortisol.

    More information on a holistic model of hot flashes can be found on my homepage (www.dr-lobisco.com).

    Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.
  • AHealthyWomen answered
    Although no one knows for sure what causes hot flashes, they're believed to be the result of a narrowing of the temperature range that normally tells the brain to adjust your internal temperature. The pituitary gland in your brain increases the amount of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) aimed at the ovaries. Falling estrogen levels and the increase in FSH and LH levels disturb your body's internal temperature. This creates instability in your vasomotor balance and results in a hot flash.

    About 75 of every 100 women approaching or going through menopause have hot flashes, which usually last for about three to five years. Hot flashes may get more intense and more frequent around your last menstrual period and then taper off, usually stopping altogether after one to five years. Some women continue to have hot flashes past age 70, however.

    During a hot flash, you may experience a sudden sensation of heat in your face, neck and chest. You may sweat profusely and your pulse may become more rapid. Some women get dizzy or nauseous. A hot flash typically lasts about two to four minutes -- which can seem like an eternity. For some women hot flashes are intolerable, occurring at inconvenient moments or at night, disrupting sleep.
  • AMarcy Holmes, MSN, Nursing, answered
    Hot flashes from perimenopause and menopause are often triggered by what I call the big bad four; Sugar, Caffeine, Alcohol and Stress! If you reduce the triggers you may reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes, naturally! Healthy diet effort, regular exercise, meditation with deep breathing thru the day as mini mental breaks are just a few easy things to implement on your own. You can also consider support programs, such as the Personal Program for Hormone Imbalance at womentowomen.com, which offers nutrient packets, dietary guidelines, and a great herbal blend designed to help!  Learn more here:
    http://www.womentowomen.com/programs/hormonalimbalance/default.aspx

    If you are not sure why you are having hot flashes, certainly talk further with your trusted health care provider for reassurance no other cause is a factor, such as diabetes or thyroid issues.
  • ABrandon Riggan, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology, answered on behalf of TriStar Hendersonville Medical Center
    The term “hot flash” describes a sudden onset of reddening of the skin over the head, neck, and chest, accompanied by feelings of intense body heat and sometimes ending with profuse perspiration. It may be rare occurring or occurring every few minutes. They tend to occur more frequently at night and in times of stress. They tend to be less severe and less frequent in cooler environments compared to warmer ones. Women who are overweight tend to report more hot flashes, as well.
     
  • Hot flashes are triggered by fluctuating (changing) hormones during menopause. During this stage of life, a woman’s body makes less of the sex hormone estrogen, which affects the hypothalamus (this gland regulates your body temperature).

    During menopause, while your estrogen level decreases, the hypothalamus gets confused and thinks your body is too hot. That signals your body to circulate more blood, and your sweat glands to produce more sweat to get rid of the heat.

    Try to figure out what brings on your hot flashes, whether it’s certain drinks such as coffee or tea, the weather (maybe it’s hot outside), stress, or spicy foods. If you can identify the trigger and avoid it, that might help.

  • AJulia Schlam Edelman, Obstetrics & Gynecology, answered
    Hot flashes can arrive hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly. Although hot flashes may occur in a cyclic pattern, they don't always appear on cue. We don't understand exactly why hot flashes occur, but there are common triggers -- behaviors, circumstances, or substances that commonly induce hot flashes. Hot or spicy foods were once thought to induce hot flashes; research does not support this idea. On the other hand, caffeine and alcohol definitely can trigger hot flashes. So can an upcoming period.
    Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.
  • For something that occurs so frequently, we really do not clearly understand what causes the hot flashes associated with menopause. It is known that they are related to the withdrawal of the female hormone estrogen, but the exact mechanism is still under study.
Did You See?  Close
How can I control hot flashes naturally?