Almost everyone knows what a hot flash is but here are some facts not everyone knows. Study up and amaze your friends with your hot flash expertise.
- Hot flashes are not always the first sign of menopause. OB/GYN Marcelle Pick writes, “Despite the fact that menopause and hot flashes are almost synonymous in the media, your first sign of menopause could be any of these symptoms: Fatigue, anxiety, irregular periods, irritability, mood swings, depression, weight gain, hair loss, cravings, fuzzy thinking, low libido, forgetfulness, heavy menses, and loss of sexuality.”
- In Victorian times, hot flashes were called “hot blooms.” Now that’s a ladylike name from an era that celebrated the feminine!
- Animals don’t have hot flashes, as far as we know. Scientists report only a few species are known to experience menopause: humans, rhesus monkeys, pilot whales, and killer whales. Animal behaviorist Dan Crofts says, “Biologically speaking, menopause is a bizarre concept, and very few species have a prolonged period of their life span where they no longer reproduce. “ If whales do have hot flashes, guesses are good those ocean waters are quite refreshing.
- In England, hot flashes are called “hot flushes” in honor of the red flush a woman’s face often takes on during a hot flash The word "flush” may also signify the sensation of the surge of blood flow to the skin.
- Doctors don’t know precisely what causes hot flashes. As women age, estrogen supplies decline. Medicine.net explains: “A disorder in thermoregulation (methods the body uses to control and regulate body temperature) is responsible for the heat sensation, but the exact way in which the changing hormone levels affect thermoregulation is not fully understood.” The research continues!
- Spicy foods can trigger a hot flash. Nutritionist Mickey Harpaz writes, “when you are eating spicy food, your core body temp goes up, and you start sweating. This is exactly what happens in hot flashes.” If you suspect this is true for you, consume spicy foods in small servings.
- An ember flash is a hot flash that isn’t as intense as a standard hot flash and lingers for 25 minutes or even longer. While not an indication of anything serious, these episodes can be disconcerting since many women don’t realize that an ember flash is a type of hot flash.
- Hot flashes are celebrated in the arts! Novelist Nancy Thayer’s The Hot Flash Club features menopausal women, and Moira Egan’s poetry collection is titled Hot Flash Sonnets. Artist Sandra Scheetz-Wise’s eclectic painting, Hot Flash, portrays two women as melting candles. There’s a singing group named “The Hot Flashes” and a song and dance called “The Hot Flash Swag.” A movie, The Hot Flashes, starring Brooke Shields and Daryl Hannah, premiered in 2013.
The Top Ten Menopause Myths. Woman to Woman. Retrieved December 10, 2105. https://www.womentowomen.com/menopause-perimenopause/menopause-myths/
Hot Flashes in Cold Waters: Killer Whales Undergo Menopause. National Geographic. Retrieved December 8, 2015. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/10/131019-killer-whales-menopause-hot-flash-marine-mammals/
Walker, Margaret and Herndon, James. Menopause in Nonhuman Primates? Biol Reprod. 2008 Sep; 79(3): 398–406.Retrieved December 18, 2015. http://www.biolreprod.org/content/79/3/398
Hot Flashes. Medicine.net. Retrieved December 8, 2015. http://www.medicinenet.com/hot_flashes/article.htm#hot_flash_facts
How Diet Can Cause and Improve Menopause Symptoms. Everyday Health. Retrieved December 8, 2015. http://www.everydayhealth.com/menopause-pictures/how-diet-can-cause-and-improve-symptoms-of-menopause.aspx#07
Reviewed December 17, 2015
By Philip Sarrel, M.D. and Lorna Sarrel, M.S.