What About the Hot Flashes?
May 15, 2018
Hot flashes or flushes are, by far, the most common symptom of menopause. About 75 percent of all women have these sudden, brief, periodic increases in their body temperature. Usually hot flashes start before a woman's last period. For 80 percent of women, hot flashes occur for two years or less. A small percentage of women experience hot flashes for more than two years. Hot flashes vary in frequency and intensity for each woman.
In addition to the increase in the temperature of the skin, a hot flash may cause an increase in a woman's heart rate. This causes sudden perspiration as the body tries to reduce its temperature. This symptom may also be accompanied by heart palpitations and dizziness.
Hot flashes occur from a decrease in estrogen levels. In response to this, your glands release higher amounts of other hormones that affect the brain's thermostat, causing your body's temperature to fluctuate.
What Can I Do?
Some practical suggestions for coping with hot flashes include:
Dress in layers, so that you can remove clothing when a hot flash starts
Avoid foods and beverages that may cause hot flashes, like spicy foods, alcohol, coffee, tea, and other hot beverages
Drink a glass of cold water or fruit juice when a hot flash starts
Reduce your stress level. Stress may worsen hot flashes
Keep a thermos of ice water or an ice pack next to your bed during the night
Use cotton sheets, lingerie, and clothing that allow your skin to breathe
Keep a diary or record of your symptoms to find what might trigger your hot flashes
When approaching menopause, every woman should discuss treatment option — and the potential risks and benefits — with her healthcare provider. There are several options available to help manage menopause symptoms. Hormone therapy has been shown to relieve some of the discomfort of hot flashes for many women. However, the decision to start using these hormones should be made only after you and your healthcare provider have evaluated your risk versus benefit ratio.
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