Friday, May 16, 2008

Hot Flashes Are The Most Common Symptoms Of Menopause - But Relief

Hot flashes are symptoms of menopause, but may begin several years before menstruation actually stops and can last for several years afterwards. A hot flash may occur at any time of the day, but there are certain triggers that can worsen the severity and increase the frequency.

Doctors do not know exactly what causes hot flashes. They are considered a ?vasomotor? symptom, because dilation of the blood vessels and changes in circulation are involved. They are believed to be directly related to decreasing estrogen production by the ovaries, a natural part of the aging process. Since, estrogen replacement therapy relieves hot flashes; lack of estrogen is probably the cause.

When a hot flash occurs at night, usually referred to as night sweats, it can interrupt a woman?s sleep, leading to insomnia, decreasing energy levels and overall sense of well being. A recent study indicates that the majority of peri-menopausal women do not feel that hot flashes affect their quality of life as much as emotional changes and mood swings, but mood swings sometimes trigger hot flashes. When a person is angry or frustrated, body temperature raises and anything that raises body temperature can trigger a hot flash.

Sometimes referred to as hot flushes, these sudden changes in body temperature are not believed to threaten a woman?s health. No medical treatment is required, unless they happen frequently, are severe or disruptive to a woman?s life. Most women can get relief by using an herbal supplement called black cohosh. This herb was used historically by Native American healers to correct symptoms related to hormonal imbalances, to help regulate menstrual cycles, as a diuretic and a mild sedative.

Research has shown that women get as much relief from hot flashes when using black cohosh as they do from estrogen replacement. It is highly recommended for women who can not risk estrogen replacement therapy, because of previous cancers or other concerns. Because, the Women?s Health Initiative found that the health benefits of hormone replacement therapy do not outweigh the risks, most doctors no longer recommend this treatment unless numerous symptoms are present and are severely impairing a woman?s ability to function, her relationships or her quality of life. Black cohosh, on the other hand, is being recommended more and more.

There are a number of substances that can trigger hot flashes. Experts advise women to avoid caffeine, salt, alcohol and nicotine. Spicy foods can also bring on a hot flash. For more information about the symptoms associated with menopause and ways to relieve them, please visit the Menopause and PMS Guide.

Patsy Hamilton was a health care professional for over twenty years before becoming a freelance writer. Currently she writes health related informational articles for the Menopause and PMS guide. Please visit to learn more about menopause and premenstrual syndrome.

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