Hot Flash Symptoms: The Well-known and Less Common
Hot flashes happen when our body gets warm all of a sudden. This dramatic warm-up is usually due to the drop in estrogen that occurs during perimenopause and menopause. This low estrogen tricks the brain’s hypothalamus into misunderstanding your body’s internal body temperature. And, the body fires itself up, generating these hot flashes. Even though hot flashes can happen at any time, they are most common at night, and women who experience them are likely to have them everyday for years on end.
Interestingly, we usually think about hot flashes in terms of troubling skin symptoms, such as facial flushing. But, hot flashes can also cause other symptoms. One often overlooked symptom that goes hand-in-hand with hot flashes is headaches.
Headaches and Hot Flashes
As we noted above, headaches and hot flashes often go hand-in-hand. And headaches, including migraines, may increase throughout the entire perimenopause journey, not simply when hot flashes happen.
But, not all hot flashes are accompanied by headaches. Generally, women report that the more severe the hot flash, the more likely it is to be accompanied by a headache. Sometimes, these headaches linger long after the individual hot flash has ended.
Why Do These Headaches Happen?
Perimenopausal headaches and migraines that accompany hot flashes are generally caused by the dip in a woman’s estrogen level that leaves her susceptible to headaches. However, it is not just low levels of estrogen that cause headaches. The roller-coaster ups and downs of estrogen levels during perimenopause play a role, and declines in progesterone levels can also contribute to these headaches. Headaches are complicated and numerous factors may play into the likelihood that you will get a headache along with your hot flash, including: stress levels, diet and nutrition choices, and ambient lighting.
For example, if you are stressed or tired, the odds of a headache could skyrocket. Poor posture that puts increased pressure on the cervical spine in your neck could also raise the risks of getting a headache with your hot flash. Another contributing factor could be a sudden change in air pressure like you would see with a weather pattern moving through your area. These are only a handful of potential contributing causes.
Tips For Reducing Hot Flashes and Headaches
Some relatively straightforward recommendations may dramatically reduce the likelihood of having hot flash-induced headaches. For example, hot flashes at night may happen because you are overheated in bed. A nice cool shower before bed could reduce the likelihood of overheating, and it may also relax you at the end of a stressful day.
In addition to opting for a cool shower, also think carefully about your pajama options. Choose a natural and breathable material and make sure that the pajamas are not too tight. Constricting clothes may dramatically up the chances that you will have a hot flash, and potentially a headache along with it. This is especially true if it is tight around the neck or face.
While you’re making these simple changes, you may also want to embrace bigger lifestyle changes. Most medical professionals believe that regular exercise can alleviate hot flashes and accompanying symptoms, like headaches. Find exercise options that resonate with you, and don’t forget to get a check-up before starting a new exercise program.
Nutrients and Healthy Food Choices
If you are still experiencing troubling headaches after adopting the recommendations outlined above, it may be time to look at your diet. Some vitamins and foods can reduce the likelihood of headaches. Some of these recommendations are offered below.
Headache-friendly Food Items
There are numerous healthy food choices that are considered headache-friendly. One option that many people swear on is chocolate, and not just any chocolate, dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is high in magnesium which can relax body tissues. This is why magnesium supplements are often recommended for headache sufferers. Other people report chocolate causing their migraine to flare up, though. May be worth trying, but beware it may not be a good option for you.
Don’t Forget Omega-3s
Foods rich in Omega 3, such as salmon, can also be a great dietary choice. Omega 3 acts like an anti-inflammatory in the body, and reducing inflammation can cut headache risks. However, research documenting a link between higher levels of dietary Omega 3 and fewer headaches is still inconclusive. Shrimp is another excellent option because of its high level of antioxidants that can also fight inflammation.
Be Sure To Drink Your Water
While you are fueling your body with healthy food choices, don’t forget to hydrate adequately. Dehydration may contribute to a large portion of the headaches that we experience, and dehydration may be able especially trying for perimenopausal women who may be sweating excessively from hot flashes. Try to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Be sure to up this intake when the weather is hot, or you’re exercising a lot.
And also, remember to add riboflavin, Vitamin B-2, to your daily supplements. Riboflavin has been shown to be very helpful in combating headaches, particularly migraines.
Headaches: Normal or Not?
As noted above, headaches can be a natural effect of perimenopausal hot flashes. But, there are countless other reasons why people may regularly have headaches. Most of these reasons are relatively benign or harmless. However, if your headaches fail to respond to the recommendations offered above or if you believe that your symptoms are worsening, it may be worthwhile to bring up your headaches with your medical providers. They can decide if ordering some diagnostic exams would be a good idea or not. And based on the results of these tests, they can start appropriate treatment as necessary.
Uncovering Headaches and Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are a disturbing and common symptom of menopause. Hot flashes may come with accompanying and troublesome symptoms, like headaches. But, there are concrete steps that you can take to cut the link between hot flashes and headaches. In addition to these changes, you may want to explore adding a wide range of healthy food choices and various supplements into your daily diet to cut the likelihood of headaches. And, if these steps are ultimately unsuccessful, make sure to raise your health concerns with your medical provider so that they can make informed choices.