A menopausal hot flash is a short and sudden sensation of warmth, mainly in the face and chest area, which can then move to the rest of a woman’s body. Often they are accompanied with face redness and heavy sweating. The flash might last between 30 seconds and a few minutes and most of them are occur in the morning and late evening. Sometimes, however, a flash tide might catch you unawares at night, causing insomnia and perspiration.
The reasons for hot flashes are still not completely clear, but it is known that they appear when the estrogen level in the blood drops. As estrogen is produced by women’s ovaries, when their functioning slows down anticipating the menopause, the estrogen level decreases. Luckily, only around 20% of women experience severe hot flashes which have to be treated medically.
It has been also noted that women who’ve had breast cancer tend to have stronger hot flashes, as well as those who had long periods of menstrual irregularity before it finally stopped. Overweight and women who smoke tend to suffer more, too.
Unfortunately, hot flashes are a long-term condition and most likely will torment you for five to six years. Although in most cases they do not require medical treatment, make sure to see your gynecologist if hot flashes are accompanied by dizziness and an increased heart rate.
To take control of your hot flashes without medical involvement, you can take the following measures:
1. Drink less coffee or convert to decaf, as its consumption may lead to more frequent hot flashes.
2. Avoid stress as much as possible. The fewer worries you have during the day, the less prone your body will be to another hot flash.
3. Ventilate your home regularly and avoid stuffed and hot rooms. It is better to sleep in a thoroughly ventilated, cold room (provided the temperature is comfortable for you).
4. Cool down your bedding too, by taking out your pillow outside for a half an hour or so before you go to sleep.
5. Use only cotton bedding and avoid artificial materials. They might increase the probability of a hot flash and make it much more uncomfortable comfortable for you.
6. Quit smoking – for multiple health reasons, including hot flashes.
7. Reduce consumption of alcohol, as it can make the hot flash seizure longer.
8. When you feel the flash approaching, sit down and make a few deep breaths. It will hardly prevent the flash, but will make it shorter and less severe.
9. If possible avoid excessively hot showers and baths, saunas, etc.
10. Try to walk more, do not avoid stairs and in general exercise more. It will not only help you reduce the number of flashes, but also improve your general state of health.
11. There are also a few herbs that might be handy in fighting hot flashes such as black cohosh and evening primrose oil.
Please, do not hesitate to contact a doctor if your hot flashes are excessively strong and frequent or accompanied with other symptoms. You can’t be too careful when it comes to your health.
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