Hot flashes are sudden spurts of warmth, generally over the face, neck, and chest that cause perspiration, a flushed appearance, and rapid heartbeat. Most commonly associated with menopause, hot flashes vary from woman to woman in frequency and duration.
Hot flashes are attributed to the changes in a woman’s reproductive hormones (estrogen and progesterone) and in the body’s hypothalamus (thermostat). For reasons unknown, a drop in estrogen effects the hypothalamus, making the body think it is “too hot”. The body responds to fend off the unwanted heat and the result is a “hot flash”.
Some women never get hot flashes while others suffer with them for years. Certain risk factors may increase your chance of hot flashes, including smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and ethnicity.
Surviving a Hot Flash
Although you may not be able to avoid a hot flash, there are some things you can do to survive one!
- Avoid the Triggers – alcohol, caffeine, spicy food, hot showers, and smoking can trigger a hot flash.
- Exercise can reduce hot flashes.
- Diet and Nutrition – consider a low-fat diet.
- Dress in Layers so you can peel them off one layer at a time as your symptoms intensify.
- Avoid Turtlenecks.
- Wear Cotton, Linen, or Rayon.
- Take a Cool Shower Before Bed.
- Keep Ice Water Handy.
- Start a “Hot Flash” Journal – record what you ate before your hot flash to determine if there are any triggers.
- Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy can rebalance your hormones, and offer relief from hot flashes and many other discomforts associated with hormones.
Hot flashes may not be preventable, but we can take steps to live with them by being proactive about our health. If you’re fed up with the symptoms of menopause or aren’t sure if your hormone levels are low, take our online hormone assessment test. In less than 2 minutes you can complete the questions and get personal recommendations from our clinicians about your hormones.