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Butterflies in the Stomach & Hot Flashes

by
author image Jayne Blanchard
Jayne Blanchard's work as a journalist and editor has appeared in "The Washington Post," "Psychology Today," "Brides," "Newsday," "USA Today," "Cosmopolitan," "ADAM," "Style" magazine and myriad other publications. In addition to writing about health, travel and women's issues, she has also worked as a movie reviewer and theater critic and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.
Butterflies in the Stomach & Hot Flashes
A woman holding her stomach in discomfort. Photo Credit sunabesyou/iStock/Getty Images

Flitting, floating butterflies are lovely visitors in the garden, but not so welcome when it feels like they are fluttering in your stomach. This is especially true if accompanied by flushed skin and an attack of the sweats. These combined symptoms could be attributed to mere nerves, or they may indicate other medical conditions.

Panic Attacks

Stomach butterflies and increased sweating could signal a panic attack, a common condition described in a publication of the University of Texas at Austin's Counseling and Mental Health Center as "an intense physical and mental chain reaction" that often begins with a single negative thought or uncomfortable body sensation. It quickly careens into fearful thoughts, feelings of terror and devastation, and a variety of ratcheting physical symptoms. While panic attacks are scary, they are not life-threatening, and treatment options are usually successful, as 70 to 90 percent of people who seek treatment and stick with it get relief from the condition, according to the University of Texas at Austin.

Anxiety Disorders

A normal reaction to stressful events includes stomach flutters and flushing, but if these symptoms persist or intrude on your quality of life, you may have an anxiety disorder. Feeling keyed up and sweaty in non-threatening situations points to anxiety disorders, which often go hand-in-hand with depression. Anxiety disorders can range from generalized anxiety disorder and phobias to post-traumatic stress syndome and social anxiety. Treatment options for anxiety include behavioral therapy, medication and alternative therapies such as relaxation or biofeedback techniques, hypnosis and meditation.

Pregnancy

During the fourth month of pregnancy, the expectant mother may feel the baby moving for the first time. The sensation of butterfly flutters in the stomach is called quickening. Fluctuations in hormone levels, specfically a decrease in estrogen, may make you feel like the baby is baking in your body. Hot flashes are normal in pregnancy and usually are confined to the head, neck and chest. They commonly occur in the second and third trimesters and hot flashes may plague you more frequently postpartum, when estrogen drops even lower before returning to pre-pregnancy levels.

Menopause

Hot flashes, which afflict roughly 75 to 85 percent of perimenopausal women, are bursts of heat that start in the torso and work up to the chest and face. Your upper body may flush red and you may break out into a sweat while experiencing flickers of anxiety in the stomach. Try eliminating spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol to see if hot flashes lessen. Dressing in layers, running a fan at the office or in the bedroom, and exercising regularly can help control hot flashes and anxiety. Hormonal therapies and alternative medicines constitute other treatment options.

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