What are hot flashes and why do they happen? What are hot flash triggers? What can you do to reduce hot flashes? There are quite a few things that can trigger a hot flash. Once you know what they are, you can avoid them. No more sweaty Betty.

Flo Hive has done the legwork for you, let’s get into it.

What are Hot Flashes?

Hot flashes, also known as vasomotor symptoms, are a common occurrence during perimenopause and menopause. They are characterized by a sudden flare of heat that spreads throughout the body, often accompanied by sweating and flushed skin. Hot flashes can vary in severity and duration, with some individuals experiencing them occasionally and others having them multiple times a day.

Causes of Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are primarily caused by hormonal changes that happen during perimenopause/ menopause. As estrogen levels decrease, the hypothalamus – which regulates body temperature – becomes more sensitive to slight variations. When the hypothalamus thinks you are too hot, it triggers a hot flash to cool you.

What Does Hot Flash Feel Like?

During a hot flash, you may experience a sudden feeling of warmth spreading through the chest, neck, and face. This warmth is often accompanied by a flushed appearance with red, blotchy skin, a rapid heartbeat, and perspiration, mostly on the upper body. Some women sense one is about to happen just a split second before it does.

After the heat subsides, some women may feel a chilled sensation. Hot flashes can also cause feelings of anxiety and can vary in frequency and duration among individuals. Generally a hot flash lasts for between 2 and 5 minutes.

11 Top Triggers And How To Avoid Them

There are simple ways to reduce hot flashes. Once you know the triggers you can make some changes to reduce the number of hot flashes you are experiencing.

Keep track of your flashes – run your own science experiment. Write down what was happening just before you had a hot flash. Because not all 11 triggers will be things that trigger you. After a week or so, look back at your list and see what patterns emerge….Then you will know what changes to make. Or you may already know what your triggers are!

Hot Flash Trigger No. 1: Red Wine

Many women enjoy a glass of wine after a long day, but did you know that red wine can actually trigger hot flashes? While the exact reason is not fully understood, it is believed that alcohol, in general, can cause blood vessels to dilate, leading to increased body temperature and hot flashes. Red wine, in particular, has been reported by many women to be a potent trigger for hot flashes.

Tip: If red wine seems to worsen your hot flashes, consider switching to white wine or non-alcoholic alternatives. You can also try diluting your wine with juice, fresh fruit, or ice cubes for a refreshing and less triggering beverage.

Hot Flash Trigger No. 2: Spicy Foods

If you love spicy foods, you may need to reconsider your choices during menopause. Spices and ingredients that add heat to your meals, such as cayenne, chili powders, and hot peppers, can act as vasodilators, causing blood vessels to widen and triggering hot flashes.

Tip: Opt for milder flavors and spices in your meals, or ask the chef to reduce the heat in your favorite dishes. Experiment with alternative ingredients that add flavor without the intense heat to continue enjoying delicious meals while minimizing the risk of hot flashes.

Hot Flash Trigger No. 3: Exercise

Exercise is essential for overall health and well-being, but it can also increase body temperature and trigger hot flashes. Physical activity raises your heart rate, leading to an increase in body temperature and the likelihood of experiencing a hot flash.

Tip: Position yourself in front of a fan while exercising or bring a small battery-operated fan (paid link) with you. Dress in lightweight, breathable clothing and stay hydrated during your workout. These measures can help keep your body temperature in check and reduce the intensity of hot flashes.

Hot Flash Trigger No. 4: Temperature Changes

Temperature changes, such as going from a heated room to cold outdoor weather or from an air-conditioned office to the sunny outdoors, can trigger hot flashes. During menopause, the body’s thermoregulatory mechanism becomes more sensitive, perceiving a narrower range of temperatures as comfortable.

Tip: Set your thermostat to a consistent temperature, such as 65 degrees Fahrenheit, to maintain a comfortable environment indoors. Dress in layers, so you can adjust your clothing according to the temperature changes throughout the day.

Hot Flash Trigger No. 5: Hot Beverages

That steaming cup of coffee or tea you love may be contributing to your hot flashes. Hot beverages, especially those containing caffeine, can increase body temperature and trigger hot flashes. Caffeine is a vasodilator – so it makes sense it could be a trigger.

Tip: Switch to iced coffee or tea for a cooler alternative. Flavored water or seltzer can also be refreshing options. If you can’t give up your hot beverages, try switching to decaffeinated versions (paid link) like this whole bean one – to see if caffeine is the trigger for your hot flashes.

Hot Flash Trigger No. 6: Smoking

Smoking is detrimental to overall health, and it can worsen hot flashes during menopause. Women who smoke are more likely to experience hot flashes, although the exact reasons for this association are not fully understood.

Quitting smoking is the best way to reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. Consult your doctor for assistance with smoking cessation aids (paid link) or programs that can support you in your journey to quit smoking.

Hot Flash Trigger No. 7: Hair Appliances

Using heat-generating hair appliances, such as blow dryers and curling irons, can raise your body temperature and trigger hot flashes. The heat from these appliances, combined with the bright lights in your bathroom, can contribute to the onset of hot flashes.

Tip: Use a fan to cool yourself while styling your hair. You can also explore natural hairstyles that do not require the use of heat-generating appliances, like the Curly Girl Method – which discourages the use of hair dryers.

Hot Flash Trigger No. 8: Heavy Clothing

Wearing heavy clothing, particularly those made from less breathable fabrics like nylon, spandex, or polyester, can trap heat and prevent your body from cooling down naturally. Overly warm skin can lead to hot flashes.

Tip: Opt for lightweight and breathable fabrics like cotton. Dress in layers so that you can remove or add clothing as needed to maintain a comfortable body temperature.

Hot Flash Trigger No. 9: Stress

Stress can aggravate hot flashes for many women. When you’re anxious or nervous, the body’s fight-or-flight response is triggered, releasing adrenaline and cortisol, which can contribute to the occurrence of hot flashes.

Tip: Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, or mindfulness meditation (paid link) to reduce stress levels. These techniques can help you relax and minimize the frequency and intensity of hot flashes.

Hot Flash Trigger No. 10: Excess Weight

Being overweight has been linked to having more hot flashes. A study found that women who lost weight were twice as likely to report fewer hot flashes. It’s not fun to think about, but losing weight (if you are overweight) could be a game changer.

Hot Flash Trigger No. 11: A Hot Bedroom

Night sweats are hot flashes. They are the same thing – just happening overnight. Take a good look at your bedroom and assess your bedding, window shades and the room temperature. A few small changes here can make all the difference for you overnight.

Tip: consider investing in cooling bedsheets (paid link) that actually work to keep you cool while you sleep. They don’t trap heat and the Flo Hive editor has them and loves them. You could also consider a cooling mattress or gel pad (paid link) for your side of the bed. And definitely invest in a quiet fan (paid link) for the bedroom if you don’t have air conditioning running overnight.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3030922/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6459071/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6718648/

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