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Our Little Private Summers – Hot Flashes

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I remember I used to laugh at my mom when she’d have her hot flashes. She would say, “Just you wait. Your time will come.” People, my time has come.

Granted, I’m pre-menopausal, but all the same, I now know. Since hot flashes can be a sign of other diseases, please keep in mind the hot flashes and/or night sweats this article will discuss refers to the ones menopause-related. Although inconvenient, this symptom is pretty common – three out of four women have them.

Is it a hormonal thing?

It starts first with the hypothalamus. This is a section of the brain that acts like your body’s thermostat. When the estrogen level begins to drop, you will start having hot flashes. The frequency of how much or how long flashes are will vary with each woman. But there are certain factors that can make this condition worse, such as smoking, obesity, not exercising and ethnicity. In regards to the latter, scientists have noted that African American women have hot flashes the most while Asian women have them the least.

How do they feel?

Personally, mine starts in the middle of my back like a warm to hot sensation and spreads upward. The Mayo Clinic gives a general description of what hot flashes feel like:

• A feeling of pressure in your head as the hot flash begins
• A feeling of mild warmth to intense heat spreading through your upper body and face
• A flushed appearance with red, blotchy skin on your face, neck and upper chest
• Rapid heartbeat
• Perspiration, mostly on your upper body
• A chilled feeling as the hot flash subsides

Also, the Mayo Clinic reports that some less common symptoms associated with hot flashes may include:

• Weakness
• Fatigue
• Faintness
• Dizziness

If these episodes are so intense – occurring on a regular basis so as to interrupt your sleep or daily routine – you may prefer to see your doctor about regulating them with medication. There are a variety of medicines that are available. Not all are right for you so trial and error may be needed at first to get the right one.

What’s good to know is that with many women, medications are not needed – only lifestyle changes. The Mayo Clinic advises to keep cool. Put plainly, when your body temperature goes up, it can trigger a hot flash. Wear light or layered clothing. Hot and spicy foods, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks bring on flashes as well. When your flashes come on, learn to breathe and relax. This is a natural part of womanhood. And finally, if you are a smoker, try to quit. Smoking is shown to be a link to an increase in hot flashes as well.

Best in Health!

Resource: Mayo Clinic

Dita Faulkner is a freelance writer and poet. Please enjoy one of her poems from her book, Red Toenails:


The soreness of my chest – a reminder of the birth of womanliness. Momma says they’re growing. It’s like your wisdom teeth busting through – painful and itchy.

Got a classmate that’s bigger than Momma even. All the boys tease her. She wears big shirts and sits with her hands folded. Those nasty boys all want to feel on her. They stand by the gym entrance and catch the girls when they walk by. Some girls go the other route, but others walk into this trap everyday and somehow shriek with surprise every time they’re caught. The fast girls all wear bras like badges. They poke their chest out front and their butts out back.

Momma says, Ain’t what makes you a woman, but sure makes you feel feminine. I saw a picture of a woman once who had hers cut off.

Disease took them.

She was bare from the waist up. Her head was bald too. She had a profile like a native princess. The loop earrings she wore touched down to her shoulder. The sunken places in her chest were smoothed out. Then I thought of my classmate covering her fleshly naturalness; how she slinks away like a hunchback with darty eyes and bowed head. Her shoulders collapsed into her frame.

Ignorance took them.

Anyway, I’ll get my bra soon. Momma said I won’t be any different,
just growing up that’s all. All I feel is the soreness in my chest.

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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.