One of the most common symptoms menopausal women face is hot flushes.

But apart from associating them with menopause, which occurs when periods stop due to lower hormone levels, not everyone realises that hot flushes are not only caused by fluctuating levels of oestrogen - stress can be a big factor too.

To mark World Menopause Day on 18 October, Vitaminology nutritional therapist Sally Duffin explains what causes hot flushes and the triggers to avoid.

"Whenever we experience stress and anxiety, our bodies switch into the 'fight or flight' response," she stated. "The brain instructs the adrenal glands to release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline which have a number of effects on breathing and circulation. This rush of blood towards the extremities can also cause vasomotor symptoms like facial flushing and hot flashes."

Duffin noted that anxiety is associated with an increased risk of experiencing menopausal hot flashes because of the combined effect of stress and hormonal fluctuations.

"Practising stress reduction and anxiety management techniques can be especially helpful during perimenopause and menopause," the expert continued.

As for managing hot flushes, Duffin recommended considering whether certain foods or drinks are having an impact on health and wellbeing.

"From a nutritional perspective, cut out caffeine, spices, and alcohol for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference to your hot flashes. Keeping a food diary can help identify other potential food triggers," she added.

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