Hot Flashes: Hormones, Heart or Heat?

Women of a certain age are all too familiar with that sudden burning heat to the face and neck. A quick glance in the mirror confirms an embarrassing flush of color and red cheeks, and then the sweat appears, requiring a quick dab with a flannel, tissue or towel. But what if that flush of heat is not a menopausal hot flash, but the body's signal that something else is wrong?

Here's a quick check list of what hot flashes at any age may actually mean.

Hot Flashes Due to Hormones
Hot flashes are part of life for most women aged between 48 and 55 as they go through menopause. It seems as if your body's thermostat has gone mad. For short periods of time you have an urge to strip off layers of clothing, stand in front of a fan on maximum power, or even put your head in the freezer for some temporary relief.

These seemingly unnatural urges are caused by a very natural process as the levels of estrogen and progesterone adjust to the changes of no longer having a monthly reproductive cycle. Typically, hot flashes during menopause mainly affect the face, neck and chest. They last for 3-6 minutes and may occur several times a day but are not continuous. Symptoms may be worse in hot humid weather, after eating spicy food or drinking alcohol or caffeine.

In severe cases, doctors may recommend hormone replacement therapy, but this may have serious side effects. The natural answer to hot flashes is evening primrose oil or black cohosh until these embarrassing hot flashes cease. Additionally, natural anti-aging treatments can help you feel young again and may help reduce symptoms related to menopause.

Hot Flashes and Blood Pressure
If you experience bursts of heat accompanied by red splotches of color on your face and neck, this can be a sign of high blood pressure. These episodes differ from hot flashes as they last longer, up to 30 minutes in some cases, and may be accompanied by dizziness. High blood pressure causes the blood vessels in the face to dilate producing burning red cheeks.

Some triggers which can raise blood pressure and cause a flushed face include stressful situations or exercise. A medical checkup with a doctor will quickly confirm whether these episodes of heat and a red face are caused by high blood pressure, which can be easily treated through diet, natural remedies and/or medication.

Less Common Causes of Hot Flashes
If none of the above causes apply and you are still worried about your red face, it may be caused by some other situations which are not generally a cause for alarm.

Hot weather or exposure to the sun, even in winter, can cause a hot glowing face. The sun's rays may be cool and weak, but when magnified off the white snow they can easily damage sensitive facial skin.
Exposure to hot water after a shower, sauna, hot tub or beauty treatment can temporarily give you a rosy glow. Spicy foods, alcohol and wind exposure can all cause cheeks to flush temporarily.

Finally, the National Institute of Health (NIH) warns against a condition known as "pyrexia". This is not an illness in itself, but is a raised body temperature generally caused as your body fights an infection. Pyrexia can be caused by many conditions including an allergy to medication, heat exhaustion or other disease. If it lasts more than a few hours, you should contact a medical professional and have it checked out.


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