All women will go through menopause. For American women, the mean age is 51. The symptoms of menopause vary as greatly as women do. Some women experience no symptoms while others have severe symptoms. Some women have symptoms for years while others may have them for only months. The most well-known symptom is the hot flash. But cold flashes are just as likely to occur.
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Menopause is a natural, biological process defined as the permanent end of menstruation and fertility, occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period, according to MayoClinic.com, and it can trigger both physical and emotional symptoms. Hormones play a large role in the many symptoms that may occur, such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, night sweats, hot flashes, cold flashes, irregular periods, chills, mood swings, hair loss or hair thinning.
A cold flash, often called the chills, is a sudden feeling of intense cold, usually accompanied with shivering. The difference between cold and shivering as a reaction to weather as opposed to a medical condition is the unexpected situation in which it happens. The brain monitors and regulates the body’s temperature, according to the University of Illinois Medical Center, and when something throws it off balance, such as menopause, chemicals will travel through the bloodstream, causing the brain to raise the normal temperature set point. This causes you to feel cold and shiver to help your body’s temperature rise to meet the new set point.
Due to estrogen levels decreasing, hormonal and biochemical imbalances occur, according to the 34 Menopause Symptoms website. The falling estrogen levels are thought to be the cause of both hot and cold flashes. The hypothalamus, the area of the brain responsible for body temperature regulation, becomes overactive. This causes the hypothalamus to release chemicals that cause blood vessels in the skin to expand in order for heat to be emitted. The end result is a cold flash.
Estrogen replacement therapy is a popular hormone therapy often used by women during menopause and is an effective treatment for body temperature regulation. Other medications, such as low dose antidepressants, gabapentin and clonidine, can help reduce cold or hot flashes, according to MayoClinic.com. Traditional remedies, such as a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate consumption of water, no smoking, and limited alcohol and caffeine, are all ways to help reduce menopause symptoms. The 34 Menopause Symptoms website suggests wearing layered clothing to accommodate for the temperature changes. During a cold flash, it helps to get up and move around to increase blood circulation.
Menopause is a fact of life but it is not a medical condition to which there is a cure. Contact your doctor if you feel your symptoms are interrupting your daily life. Treatments can help alleviate symptoms such as cold flashes.