1. What are Hot Flashes And Why Do You Get Them?
According to an article entitled “Hot Flashes” by Mayo Clinic (undated), “A hot flash is the sudden feeling of warmth in the upper body, which is usually most intense over the face, neck and chest. Your skin might redden, as if you’re blushing. A hot flash can also cause sweating. If you lose too much body heat, you might feel chilled afterward. Night sweats are hot flashes that happen at night, and they may disrupt your sleep.” [i] This article also describes it as:”
- A sudden feeling of warmth spreading through your chest, neck and face
- A flushed appearance with red, blotchy skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Perspiration, mostly on your upper body
- A chilled feeling as the hot flash lets up
- Feelings of anxiety”
A hot flash is usually caused by fluctuating hormonal levels although some medical conditions can also trigger it. For instance, an under-active thyroid gland which is known as Hypothyroidism “can increase or worsen symptoms of menopause” [ii] and also reduce bone density which makes a woman more prone to osteoporosis.
2. How Do You Know If You Are Having a Hot Flash and How Often Can You Get Them?
According to an article called “How does a hot flash feel?” by Zawn Villines, “Hot flashes cause a sudden sensation of heat in the upper body. A person might experience symptoms in the chest, arms, neck, or face. The heart rate also tends to increase during a hot flash, intensifying the sensation of heat. Most hot flashes last between 30 seconds and 10 minutes, but they can be longer. The frequency of hot flashes varies significantly among individuals. For instance, they can happen many times an hour, a few times a day, or less than once a week. Some people find that their hot flashes follow a predictable pattern.” [iii]
According to “Hot Flash Causes and Treatments” by Stephanie Faris, Erica Roth and Ana Gotter, causes of hot flashes include:” [iv]
- medical conditions, such as diabetes
- certain forms of birth control
- eating disorders
Other potential triggers of hot flashes include:
- spicy foods
- hot drinks
- being in a warm room
- wearing tight clothing
- stress and anxiety
- pregnancy, particularly during the first and second trimesters
- an overactive or underactive thyroid
- radiation therapy
- spinal lesions
- some medications, including the osteoporosis drug raloxifene (Evista), the breast cancer drug tamoxifen (Soltamox), and the pain reliever tramadol (Conzip, Ultram)”
a. Lifestyle Changes
This same article also recommended lifestyle changes that include:”
- dressing in layers, even on the coldest days, so you can adjust your clothing to how you’re feeling
- sipping ice water at the start of a hot flash
- keeping a fan on while you sleep
- lowering the room temperature
- wearing cotton clothes and using cotton bed sheets
- keeping an ice pack on your bedside table
- avoiding spicy foods
- limiting how much alcohol you drink
- limiting hot beverages and caffeine
- stopping smoking
- using stress reduction techniques, such as yoga, meditation, or guided breathing
- avoiding high fat and high sugar foods”
The same article also suggested getting a doctor’s prescription for the following medications:”
- hormone replacement drugs
- gabapentin (Neurontin), an anti-seizure medication
- clonidine (Kapvay), which can be used for high blood pressure or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- If beta-blockers, hyperthyroidism, or anti-thyroid medications are causing your hot flashes, there are medications you can use to relieve your symptoms. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the malfunctioning areas of the thyroid gland.
- Note that using some of these prescription drugs for hot flashes is considered off-label use.
Off-label drug use means a drug that’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for one purpose is used for a different purpose that hasn’t yet been approved. However, a doctor can still use the drug for that purpose.
The positive effects of meditation are known worldwide. You may encounter some setbacks in the form of not being able to concentrate fully but practice makes perfect. Meditation has also been known to:
- reduce stress and anxiety,
- enhance self-awareness,
- improve happiness, and
- create overall well-being.
d. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a goal-oriented and problem-solving tool used to change the negative way people feel about something. The objective is to create a positive outcome for the patient. Here a therapist will work with you to make sure that you are aware of the way you feel about experiencing hot flashes. Through regular sessions, you will come to realize that you can change the way you feel about hot flashes so that they do not bother you as greatly as before.
I hope the above strategies help you to reduce the negative effects brought on by hot flashes as every woman deserves to feel good about Menopause.
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