What’s a hot flash? If you’ve had one, you don’t have to ask. Suddenly, you feel pressure in your head and your body starts to heat up — spreading like fire through your upper body and face, leaving your skin blotchy and red. Your heart races. And then it is done, leaving you sweaty and chilled — and sometimes even weak and dizzy.
Hot flashes are mostly caused by normal hormone changes of menopause — and they happen to about eight-five percent of American women. As many as three out of four women going through menopause deal with hot flashes on a regular basis. They may pop up several times in a day or night. Or they may irregularly come and go. They could last 30 minutes or just a minute or two. We aren’t sure of the exact cause, but we know that hormonal changes during menopause create problems for the hypothalamus, your body’s thermostat.
For some women, they’re a minor inconvenience. For others, it can be like having your own private hike through the desert. If severe hot flashes interrupt your life, what can you do? Here are a few ideas:
- Find ways to keep your body cooler during the day and night. Wear loose-fitting, lighter clothing. Dress in layers so you can remove clothing if you get too warm.
- Wear clothing that whisks moisture. The St.Vincent Women’s Health Boutique sells Hot Flash Pajamas that are designed to wisk away moisture during the night, making sleeping more comfortable.
- Avoid hot and spicy foods and drinks containing caffeine and alcohol.
- Keep cold water close by.
- Lower the thermostat, if you can.
- Quit smoking!
- Avoid white sugar.
- Find ways to relax through activities such as yoga and meditation.
- Consider herbal remedies traditionally considered helpful for hot flashes, including chickweed, elder, and violet to cool your system.
With your doctor’s help, you can also look into ways you might make hot flashes easier to handle through lifestyle changes, prescription medication — including hormone therapy — and other remedies.
Hot flashes are bothersome — but they’re temporary. Keep your cool as best you can —you’ll get through them!