Hot Flashes

Hot Flashes in Menopause, Symptoms and Natural Remedies

Menopause: Hot flashes, night sweats, racing heart...all these are symptoms of perimenopause. Experiencing a hot flash or hot flushes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause and perimenopause.

Doctors estimate at least more than 60% of women will experience them during menopause. They've also been refered to as “power surges” or “raging hormones” and most menopausal women find them quite annoying especially if they are coupled with night sweats and disrupting your sleep patterns.

Whatever you call them, if you’re a woman in the menopausal stage of life, you know that a hot flush can be uncomfortable and sometimes even embarrassing. Sudden waves of heat and perspiration seems to radiate from your body at the most inconvenient and unexpected times.

Hot Flash Symptoms

These Hot Flash Symptoms may vary in intensity and from woman to woman but generally include:

  • Intense heat coming from your upper body and face

  • Profuse perspiration

  • Blotchy red face, neck, and upper chest

  • Increased heartbeat

  • A cold sensation as the hot flash stops

What Causes Hot Flashes?

You're probably aware that for women, the amount of estrogen being produced by your body decreases as you age. This might be the primary causes of hot flushes. Scientists theorize that this decrease in estrogen signals the temperature-regulating part of your brain that your body is too hot.

As a result, your brain sets a whole chain of events into motion by sending urgent messages to various places in your body. Your heart is told to pump faster, the blood vessels in your skin told to enlarge and release the heat, and your sweat glands are told to turn on the sweat to cool you down and turn down the temperature. The immediate message is: cool it down.

But there is a light at the furnace door: these heat surges don’t last forever. As with most signs of menopause, hot flushes will reduce in frequency and intensity over time and eventually stop altogether.

Common Triggers For A Hot Flash

It's helpful to be aware of some common triggers that will set off a hot flash. Caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, and smoking are common hot flash igniters. Other culprits include spicy foods and hot weather.

Natural Remedies For Hot Flashes

In addition to avoiding some of these common reasons for hot flushes, here are several simple and natural ways to relieve the hot flush symptoms.
  • Turn the thermostat down. If other people object, try wearing lighter weight clothing made of 100% cotton. Cotton allows your body to breathe, letting the heat out and cooling you down faster.

  • Also keep some ice water nearby. If you start to feel that prickly sensation of a hot flash crawling up your face, take a drink of cool water. It’s also not a bad idea to keep a fan nearby, either.

  • Don't stress. Research conducted on the brain indicates that stress is a major contributor to hot flushes. According to one recent study, stress causes the brain to release a chemical that stimulates the part of the brain regulating your temperature.

    Health practitioners recommend daily stress reduction exercises such as meditation, yoga, massage, and breathing exercises. As a matter of fact, according to Sadja Greenwood, M.D., assistant clinical professor of gynecology at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, women who practice deep, slow, controlled breathing have fewer and less severe heat surges than those who don’t.

  • Get active. Daily aerobic exercise will be very helpful in reducing the intensity of a hot flush. The other benefits are that it keeps you healthier and fit. Regular 30-minute workouts release endorphins; hormones which tend to diminish in women as estrogen decreases.

    Dr. Timothy Yeko, an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of South Florida suggests that an increase in endorphins helps to reduce the frequency of hot flushes and elevate good feelings. Just be careful not to exercise right before bed, because it could bring on a case of night sweats.

  • Better nutrition. Taking away some of the diet triggers such as caffeine, chocolate, and alcohol and adding soothing foods, vitamins, and herbs to your diet could help to reduce hot flushes.

    Research has shown that eating foods made from soy products, such as soymilk, whole soybeans, tofu, and miso have reduced hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms greatly. Soy and other plants types contain isoflavones, an estrogen-like compound.

    Adding Vitamin E has also been shown to help reduce hot flush frequency and severity. It can be found in wheat germ, wheat germ oil, safflower oil, whole-grain breads and cereals, peanuts, walnuts, filberts and almonds.

  • Herbal Remedies For Hot Flashes. Herbs have been used for thousands of years to help treat a multitude of symptoms. Those recommended by many traditional as well as alternative health care practitioners for menopausal symptoms include dong quai, ginseng, evening primrose oil, licorice root, black cohosh, sarsaparilla, spearmint, damiana, motherwort, chasteberry, red raspberry leaves, wild yams, fennel, and anise.

    Susan Lark, M.D., medical director of the PMS and Menopause Self-Help Center in Los Altos, California believes these special “women’s herbs” have a weak regulating effect on estrogen and may help control hot flushes.

  • Soak in a tepid bath for 20 minutes each morning - some women find this routine helps reduce hot flushes for a number of hours.

For most women menopause hot flushes are simply a part of the aging process and part of being a woman. There’s no doubt they are an annoying but there are natural treatments you can try as discussed above.

Some women have menopause symptoms severe enough to seek medical attention. By all means, consult your doctor if necessary. In fact, all women should consult their healthcare practitioner before making any drastic lifestyle changes. With a little action on your part, a natural approach to taming your hot flashes can really help you to get through them.

More information on Natural Remedies For Hot Flashes

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