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Your Hot Flashes Could Be Telling You Something

Anytime in your life when hormonal changes begin to occur, you know that you’re in for something new. Whether it is puberty, pregnancy, or menopause, a woman’s body is constantly changing and undergoing new sensations and symptoms with each level of evolution. While menopause can be a blessing in terms of no longer having a monthly period, it can also herald some truly uncomfortable symptoms.

Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms experienced by women from age 50 to 70. They can come on at any moment, although many women complain about them occurring in the evening when they are trying to sleep. Anytime that a woman is overworked, rushed, or anxious, a hot flash could also occur.

Recent studies have shown that these extreme bursts of sweaty discomfort are not just a pain for the sufferer, but they may also be a sign of changes to the brain. Results published in the journal, Menopause, say as much, revealing that heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol could also be linked to these symptoms. Medical News Today reports; “The researchers performed MRI brain imaging on the women to look for white matter hyperintensities - bright spots that likely develop from disease of the brain's small blood vessels. Although the women self-reported an average of three hot flashes per day, the biological monitors showed an average of eight per day. It is likely that some of the hot flashes were not reported because they happened while the women were sleeping.”

Women who experienced a hot flash during the test showed blood vessel changes in their brain tissue. Scans also showed more white matter during this time.

Menopause Symptoms

Hot flashes have no one reason or cure. They occur when a woman becomes overheated, stressed, or for no external reason at all. Hormones and changes in internal natural chemicals all explain he way that the body changes during menopause, but makes it impossible to track all of the whys and hows of the process.

Restless leg syndrome, mood swings, and memory loss are also described as common symptoms felt during these changes. Treatments include over the counter medications, hormone supplementation, and good old fashioned exercise and dietary changes. Health Line says; “Certain spicy foods — particularly hot peppers — are a common culprit too. Foods that pack a fiery punch can dilate blood vessels and stimulate nerve endings. These biological changes create a feeling of extreme heat. Alcohol, for some people, also has an effect similar to hot flashes. This response can develop at any point in a person’s life.”

Changes In The Brain

Much of the latest data derived from studies surrounding hot flashes has found that there are actual distinctive changes occurring in the brain at the occurrence of each symptom. This is a big deal, because it explains a direct correlation between the changing of the brain and the changing of the body. It also provides greater hints about how to treat hot flashes and other menopause symptoms by first treating he brain.

A cold water bottle or cool shower may help momentarily, but research for long term treatments is a clear cut goal of the medical community. Fortunately, hot flashes generally are only a problem for five to ten years, after which many, if not all of the symptoms, subside.

Treatment And Therapy

Exercise and healthy eating may seem like a copout response to therapy and treatment for hot flashes and other menopause symptoms, but they are also one of the only resorts which doctors can turn to during these times. Some women do seek medication, while others run to stick their faces in the freezer section of the grocery store each time a hot flash hits. Women Living Naturally reports; “Treatments that stabilize the autonomic nervous system (which controls involuntary responses) may temper hot flashes. Regular moderate exercise decreases FSH and LH levels, reducing and possibly eliminating symptoms. The hypothalamus regulates the menstrual cycle, body temperature, and the autonomic nervous system. During menopause, it becomes supersensitive to outside signals exercise can stabilize it and help restore more normal hormonal levels.”

The medical community has also determined that eating fresh grains and vegetables can help decrease the severity of hot flashes, and also helps in controlling ones temper during mood swings.

At the moment there are no treatments which revolve around reducing brain changes to reduce symptoms, but the concept has merit and could be used as a possible future experiment. Some doctors recommend antidepressants during menopause which can help with a number of symptoms. This is one step in the right direction toward dealing with the brain before the body in terms of what is being observed in a patient.

Get Medical Advice

If you are undergoing menopause and have questions or concerns regarding the symptoms or the process, speak to your doctor or a public health nurse. Understanding what is happening and what else you can expect down the road can greatly prepare you for he best and the worst of menopause.

Professional advice from a nutritionist can also be beneficial, especially if you are working on changing you diet to reflect a healthier you with less severe symptoms. Most suggest cutting back on fats an protein and eating more complex carbohydrates and drinking more water. Sleep also plays a big role in how intense your symptoms will be and how easily it is to relieve them.

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