Hot flashes are the most frequent symptoms which many women experience during premenopause, perimenopause and menopause, but not all women undergoing menopause experience hot flashes.
Hot flash is a momentary sensation of heat that may be accompanied by a red, flushed face and sweating.
Hot flash is a feeling of warmth that spreads over the body and often most strongly felt in the head and neck regions – the sudden, intense, hot feeling on your face and upper body, perhaps preceded or accompanied by a rapid heartbeat and sweating, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, headache and/or weakness. During menopause some women experience an “aura” (very specific feeling just before the hot flash) which lets women know what it is coming. The flash is followed by a flush, leaving woman reddened and perspiring. Menopausal women can experience soaker or merely a moist upper lip.
Hot flashes during menopause usually last from 30 seconds to several minutes. In general, hot flashes last only few minutes, however, some unfortunate women can experience hot flashes lasting up to 30 minutes. Some menopausal women can experience as many as 15 hot flashes in one day, but typically hot flashes occur 2 to 4 hours apart during menopause.
Sometimes hot flashes could be accompanied by night sweats (episodes of drenching sweats at the night) which could lead to awakening and difficulty falling asleep again, resulting in unrefreshing sleep and daytime tiredness.
HOT FLASHES – chances to have it during menopause
Hot flashes occur in more than 2/3 of North American women during perimenopause and almost all women with induced menopause or premature menopause.
About 80-85% of American women experience hot flashes of some kind as they approach menopause and for the first year or two after their periods stop but as time goes on, the intensity of the hot flashes decreases.
It was discovered that hot flashes can occur in 35-40% of regularly menstruating women in their forties, so menopause hot flashes could start before the menstrual irregularities.
The severity and duration of hot flashes varies among women going through menopause. In most cases about 80% of menopausal women will be finished having hot flashes after 4-5 years. Some women suffer from hot flashes during 9-11 years.
HOT FLASHES and other menopause symptoms
Very often hot flashes accompanied with several other menopause symptoms which is making it more severe. The most common side effect of hot flashes is sweating – the amount of produced sweat during hot flashes could vary depending on stage of menopause, women’s diet and used medication. Some women get away with just a sweaty lip while others feel like they have run the marathon. If the transition between perimenopause and menopause is fairly quick, women should expect more severe menopause additional symptoms during hot flashes.
Sometimes hot flashes are combined with sweating at the night – it called night sweats and may interfere with sleep making it impossible to get a good night’s sleep. Sometimes menopause women have hot flashes plus a visual appearance of redness in the face and neck.
In most cases during hot flashes the sensations of heat move up women’s waist, chest, neck, and face and may cause unpleasant sensations of nausea, suffocation, or even dizziness. Perspiration that menopausal women exude during hot flashes will soon cool down, causing rapid chills all over the body.
Often hot flashes could create emotional discomforts – hot flashes leave menopausal women feeling very anxious because these flashes are hard to predict. Menopause women could feel embarrassed if they have hot flashes and hot sweat at the restaurant, during official meeting, at friend’s houses or at parties.
Hot flashes can make women feel completely exhausted as all body energy has been zapped for as much as an hour after a hot flash.
HOT FLASHES – causes
Although the exact cause of hot flashes is not fully understood, hot flashes are thought to be due to a combination of hormonal and biochemical fluctuations brought on by declining estrogen levels and may be related to changes in circulation. Most scientists agreed that hot flashes are mostly caused by the hormonal changes of menopause but can also be affected by lifestyle and medications.
It is generally thought that declining hormones in menopausal women are the cause of the rush of blood, palpitations, and sweats associated with hot flashes. However, other factors, including fluctuating neurotransmitters in the brain, may also be reasons for hot flashes
It is well known that estrogen and progesterone levels drop during menopause and in response the body produces more of a brain hormone called Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) in order to force fertility. GnRH is also responsible for regulating heat sensors in the brain. When higher levels of GnRH are present, your body mistakenly thinks that it is overheating. The menopausal body attempts to cool itself down by opening blood vessels in the head and neck, which causes perspiration.
Hot flashes occur when the blood vessels near the skin’s surface dilate to cool and it produces the red, flushed look to the face.
HOT FLASHES – treatment
HOT FLASHES – prevention & tips
It is impossible to completely avoid hot flashes during menopause but there are certain triggers that may bring them on more frequently or cause them to be more severe. For preventing menopause burning (hot) flashes it is recommended to avoid stress, caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, tight clothing, heat and cigarette smoke.
If you want to reduce the severity of your burning (hot) flashes during menopause, better follow some recommendations:
Keep your bedroom cool at night. Use fans during the day. Wear light layers of clothes with natural fibers such as cotton. Use cotton bed linens as cotton is more breathable and absorbent than other fabrics. It will keep you cooler at night.
Do pleasant relaxing things – swim, learn yoga, listen to music, meditate, travel, keep knitting. Keep yourself busy with pleasant things.
Use breathing exercises
Try deep, slow abdominal breathing (6-10 breaths per minute). Practice deep breathing for 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening and at the onset of flashes.
Do physical exercises
Exercise daily regularly – aerobic, cardio, walking, swimming, dancing and/or bicycling are all good choices.
Choose the right pillow
Chill pillows as cooler pillows to lay head on at night might be helpful.
Choose right cloths
Dress in light clothes and then add warm clothes on top. If you are hit with a sweat, you can easily strip off a layer.
Choose the right food
Watch your diet. Certain foods often exacerbate hot sweats especially spicy foods, hot drinks, and alcohol. Soy products have been shown to reduce burning flashes in menopausal women. Drink lots of water and juice and keep a cool drink next to your bed (for night flashes).
Consider Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Hormone Replacement Therapy (oral or transdermal estrogen/progesterone) can help keep your fluctuating hormones in check, stopping disturbing flashes before they start.
Schedule your life properly & ease the pressure
Plan everything in advance and avoid unexpected pressure. Give yourself more time to plan your work & holidays, to schedule your travels, to rehearse your presentation, to deliver your assignments, to arrive where you’re going. Give yourself a special time for relaxation and cool off between activities. Always plan your schedule so you can avoid meetings or decision making when you’re most likely to be in a sweat.
Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.