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Hot Flashes

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Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause in women but may also occur in men. Perimenopause pertains to transition period from the last menstrual cycle to the 12 months after, whereas menopause is the time in every woman’s life when there is a permanent end of menstrual cycle and fertility. A hot flash is a temporary sensation of heat that spreads over the body is sometimes accompanied by sweating and a red, flushed face. Hot flashes usually begin or are most intense over the ace, neck and chest. A hot flash is also sometimes called a hot flush.

When the superficial blood vessels dilate to cool, hot flashes occur. This creates a red, flushed look. In most cases, the body sweats to cool the body down. The severity, duration and occurrence of hot flashes will differ among women in their menopausal stages. Hot flashes generally reduce in intensity as a woman ages. In some cases, hot flashes may occur for a very short time while others may have it for the rest of their life. They may occur at any time of the day, including night time, where it may interfere with sleep.

The exact cause of hot flashes is unknown, but it is partially assumed to be related to the hypothalamus, the body’s thermostat. The hypothalamus regulates the body temperature and other basic processes in the body. As a woman approaches menopause, oestrogen levels decline, which are associated to disrupting the hypothalamic function.

Symptoms of Hot Flashes

The following symptoms may be present when a person experiences hot flashes:

  • Warm feeling spreading through the upper body and face
  • Flushed appearance with red, spotted skin
  • Sweating, but mostly on the upper body
  • Fast heartbeat
  • A chilly feeling as hot flashes subsides

Management of Hot Flashes

                Although it is not a disease, it may provide discomfort to women. Effective treatments for hot flashes are available and can be used. Home management can be done for hot flashes:

  • Take low doses of certain antidepressants such as Venlafaxine, Fluoxetine, and Paroxetine to reduce hot flashes.
  • If one is in a hot environment, remove self from that environment and move to a cooler environment.
  • Keep cool by using a fan or air conditioner.
  • Do medication, relaxation and/ or other stress reducing techniques.
  • In severe cases, hormone therapy may be done.

Prevention of Hot Flashes

While it is not possible to completely prevent hot flashes in women experiencing perimenopause or menopause, there are some ways to avoid or at least decrease occurrence of hot flashes:

  • Avoid triggers such as stress, caffeine, alcohol, cigarette smoke, spicy foods, tight clothing and heat.
  • Stay cool. During the day, avoid the sun or staying in hot areas and wear light/ cotton clothes.
  • Practice deep, slow abdominal breathing. Do this for 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening and at the onset of hot flashes.
  • Create a regular exercise schedule.

Disclaimer: The information mentioned above should not be used for medical advice or treatment. To learn how to treat hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause and other natural occurrences in the body, enrol in First Aid Courses.

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