We might have come across the many menopausal women in our circles who often ask the question, “Is it really hot? Or is it just me?” Many seem terrified at knowing that they might get a hot flash any moment and the others are hoping that it is not a hot flash at that moment as they may be busy with work or something else that cannot take any more heat. Among the signs of menopause, it may be safe to say that hot flashes or night sweats are prevalent during menopause among women across the world irrespective of their ethnicities.
Hot flashes may occur during pregnancy or due to some medical conditions like tumours, eating disorders, diabetes, etc., for reasons other than menopause and require you to visit the health practitioner, but menopausal hot flashes occur for a longer period with unpredictable intensity and can be regulated with natural remedies. In fact, men complain of hot flashes during andropause as well, but it may not need medical attention or be severe. Since testosterone reduces gradually and their hormonal balance is more stable than women. It may be more severe for women whose loss of ovarian follicles lead to fluctuations in estrogen levels that may or not stimulate the hypothalamus region of the brain which regulates the body temperature.
What is a hot flash experience during menopause all about?
What begins as warmth above the chest level surges up as a heatwave towards the neck, arms and face with an intense feeling of hotness as though you were in a boiling pot. It may or not spread to the rest of the body. It is followed by an outbreak of sweats that are intended to cool off the skin and body temperature. This increases the blood flow to the upper part of the body dilating the blood vessels which may cause a visible red flush on your face, neck, and arms. Adding on to that, temporary heart palpitation may be part of the hot flash experience. This may be followed by a spell of cold chills due to profuse sweating. Each hot flash episode lasts anywhere between half a minute to 10 minutes, and they come uninvited.
The occurrence of hot flashes may be untimely, and its frequency or severity is not predictable. You may get it just one time in a day or the night when you are asleep, or it may happen 4-6 times along the day that is beyond annoyance. Women may look like they are blushing while many may feel embarrassed and conscious about themselves especially when they go through a hot flash at work or in a public place. Some occurrences of hot flashes are mild and almost ignored while the severe and repeated occurrences several times in a day may be exhausting and needs regulation. This may get frustrating when they last through the menopausal phase ranging from a few months to 8-10 years and a little after menopause.
How are night sweats different from hot flashes?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if hot flashes could burn the extra calories that women gain during menopause? Instead, they creep in on you when you are asleep in the middle of the night drenching everything around sometimes. That is called night sweats. And mind you, most symptoms of menopause may be interrelated. For instance, hot flashes or night sweats may disrupt regular sleep patterns that may lead to fatigue, anxiety and irritable mood swings thus lowering the quality of life. It is then that signs like hot flashes and other vasomotor symptoms of menopause may need to be regulated either through changes in lifestyle, supplements, hormonal therapies, or medications as advised by your health care provider. Hot flashes among Indian women may start earlier as they start menopause at early ages in comparison to western counterparts. And it may last for approximately 4-5 years. According to a study by IMS, the seasonal temperature may not influence hot flushes among Indian women, but their food habits, health, mood and lifestyle factors may be contributing to the severity and frequencies of hot flashes in Indian women.
Remedies for Hot flashes during menopause
Hot flashes may not be curbed completely during menopause, but the severities can be alleviated and the frequencies may be regulated with a few remedies. Some of them are:
Regulation of body weight:
Women with high body mass index (BMI) and overweight issues may be prone to hot flashes during menopause. And, reducing weight as you get older might get difficult. Hence, it may be important to watch your weight, consume a healthy diet, exercise, and burn off the extra calories and maintain a healthy body weight before you hit menopause and as you age further after.
Healthy diet: Consuming a balanced meal in regulated portion proportion is suggested. Spicy food is one of the triggers that aggravate the intensity of hot flashes. Avoiding the same might help in regulating the intensity of hot flashes. Consuming cold water or juice while experiencing a hot flash may help alleviate the symptom.
Natural supplements: non-hormonal and natural supplements that contain Vitamin E, plant-based isoflavones or phytoestrogen compounds from herbs like Black cohosh, soy or red clover may help a great deal to minimise the intensity of hot flashes. Supplements like Femarelle that contain fermented soy derivative, flaxseeds, essential vitamins, minerals, calcium, and antioxidants may be best suitable to alleviate the severity of hot flashes during menopause.
Hormone Therapy: Until some years, Hormone replacement therapies was widely suggested by medical practitioners. While this may help with the hot flashes, it may be the reason for cancer and other complication when you grow older in the long run. Moreover, HRT may not be suitable for women with pre-existing medical conditions.
Lifestyle changes: Including exercises, meditation and breathing techniques into your everyday activities would work wonders in easing the severity of hot flashes. Reducing caffeine consumption, abstaining from alcohol, and quitting the smoking habit is essential as they are some of the triggers that enhance the intensity of hot flashes.
Natural and alternative treatments: Research has shown that treatments like acupuncture and hypnosis may be effective to reduce the effects of hot flashes.
Every woman experiences menopause and growth differently and the symptoms vary accordingly as well. Most women may experience hot flashes during and after menopause. According to some studies, hot flashes affect 74% of women during perimenopause for around 2-5 years. And some women may not experience hot flashes and other signs of menopause as severely or at all through their life or menopausal transition.