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Different Women, Different Hot Flashes

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Women in a flower shop Tyler Olson/fotolia

When florists have hot flashes, they can do what my friend Mae Lee does. Mae Lee hurries to the walk-in cooler at the Flower Patch, the shop where she works. Surrounded by roses, lilies, snapdragons, daisies, mums, babies breath, and ferns, Mae Lee cools off. That is, until the next hot flash. Mae Lee writes, “My hot flashes are not exactly ‘flashes’ but rather hot, sweaty, steamy ‘constants.’”

Contrast Mae Lee’s hot flashes to my friend Gail’s. “I never really had what I call ‘hot flashes,’” Gail explains. “I had mini heat ups that I named ‘power surges.’ I would get hot, but it would quickly go away.” Mae Lee’s hot flashes have dragged on for years. Not so with Gail, who says, “I had so few that I don't really remember how often. Maybe once a week for six months, if that much.”

Hot flashes vary from woman to woman. The Mayo Clinic reports that “usually the range is from one or two a day to one an hour.” Hot flashes are brief for some women, lasting just a minute, but for others, the hot flash continues for five long minutes. Dr. Valerie Omicioli, a certified menopause practitioner, states on WebMD that “for 25 percent – 30 percent of women, hot flashes and night sweats will be severe enough to interfere with quality of life.”

Common symptoms of hot flashes are a sudden rush of heat, facial flushing, rapid heartbeat, and sweating. With severe hot flashes, women may also experience anxiety attacks, headache, dizziness, and nausea. Activities such as conducting business meetings, caring for grandkids, driving in rush hour, and hosting a party can be extra-challenging for women who suffer such debilitating hot flashes.

In a post titled “Menopause and Moods,” health blogger Sheryl Kraft recounts a comment made by one of her readers: “While on a flight to Iceland, I had a bad hot flash/anxiety attack that seemingly came out of nowhere. Suddenly, I got really hot, sick to my stomach and shaky. ... I wanted to get up, but I knew if I did, I'd faint.” Stories like this are rare, but they help us understand just how daunting hot flashes can be for some women. WebMD shares this good news: “Generally, hot flashes are less severe as time passes.”

My friend Gail, like me, had little trouble with hot flashes. As for Mae Lee, her hot flashes are a nuisance, although she wouldn’t cast them as “severe.” Mae Lee’s advice to all of you: “The next time you’re thinking how much fun it would be to work in a florist, consider the flower cooler as a perk when you go through menopause.” And having a florist for a friend is definitely a perk. Mae Lee did the flowers for my daughter’s wedding, and they were gorgeous!


Hot Flashes: Definition. MayoClinic.org. Retrieved on August 14, 2015. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hot-flashes/basics/definition/con-20034883

Menopause Health Center: Hot Flashes, Menopause, and Sweating. WebMD. Retrieved on August 10, 2015. http://www.webmd.com/menopause/features/menopause-sweating-11

The Blog: Menopause and Moods. Huffington Post. Retrieved on August 13, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sheryl-kraft/menopause-and-moods_b_7082212.html

Menopause Health Center: Menopause and Hot Flashes. WebMD. Retrieved on August 14, 2015. http://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/menopause-hot-flashes

Reviewed August 18, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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