March 2013 | Newsletter archives
Are your hot flashes tied to metabolism?
By Dr. Eva Cwynar
It comes on in a flash. The sudden, unpleasant warmth, flushed skin, sweating. It’s a hot flash, or power surge, and while most women think they’re because of menopause, it’s not always the case. Hot flashes can be caused by everything from spicy food to medications to cancer to your metabolism to, yes, menopause. Here are some common hot flash triggers:
• Spice. Spice is nice unless it’s making you sweat excessively. You may need to cut back on the hot pepper sauce.
• What you drink may cause your temperature to spike. Caffeine and alcohol are hot flash triggers so limit your intake.
• Drugs. Prescription drugs can often trigger a hot flash, especially if you’re just starting a new medication, or just stopping a medication. Menopause drugs as well as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can often be the culprit.
• Adrenaline. Any sudden excitement or stress can cause that flash of warmth through the body, but it doesn’t always mean you’re having a hot flash. It’s usually just a surge in response to fear.
• Hormone-secreting tumors. If you have a tumor, even if it’s benign, it can over produce hormones that can cause your body to flash hot.
• Hypothyroidism. Your thyroid is an endocrine gland that controls metabolism. It does so by creating the hormones your body needs to convert food to energy. If you have an overactive thyroid – hypothyroidism – you have more thyroid hormones than you need. This speeds up your body’s metabolism, which causes heavier-than-usual sweating and difficulty handling heat. It may feel like a hot flash, but it’s actually a metabolism flash.
There are other culprits that could be responsible for your hot flashes, including certain cancers and other illnesses. If we can locate the right trigger, we can also identify the right treatment, and then work together to turn your hot flashes into flashes of proper health. We may even be able to get your metabolism back on track.