From all of the symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause, hot flashes and night sweats could be considered the most disturbing symptom and the hardest thing to control.
Hot flashes is a sudden sensation of excessive warmth on your face and upper body, and may be preceded or accompanied by day or night sweats, a rapid heartbeat, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, headache, menopause fatigue, or a breathlessness sensation.
It is uncomfortable at best; but once you understand the cause, you should be able to control it.
A report on menopause study showed that psychological and lifestyle factors can increase the frequency and severity of hot flashes that a woman suffers. Moreover, women with a serious anxiety symptom had nearly five times the number of hot flashes compared to those who tested low. Women who smoked suffered twice the amount. Being overweight led to an increase in annoying hot flashes too.
Although it is a common to think that hot flashes and night sweats are related to a drop in the estrogen levels, there are those who believe it is simply the hormonal balance which acts as the catalyst1. Before puberty, girls have low estrogen, but no hot flashes. Conversely, women in the late stages of pregnancy may have hot flashes at a time when their estrogen levels are high.
Researchers have stated that the secretion of hormones is regulated in the brain by the hypothalamus2, which houses the body’s thermoregulatory3 center. They suppose that something happens in this center that causes the body’s thermostat to be altered. The result is a hot flash. In an attempt to cool down, the body sweats and blood vessels dilate, causing skin to turn pink or red. After awhile, maybe a few minutes, the heat disappears, leading to chills.” That’s why hot flashes usually followed by a cold flashes. Chill sensation after a hot flashes and night sweats episode is often confused with the coldness sensation in hypothyroid women. Read further about this in Perimenopause, Menopause and Hypothyroidism.
Since there are no final conclusions about the exact causes of hot flashes, let’s try to determine how long hot flashes last, how to deal with hot flashes and night sweats, are there any alternative hot flash treatments for controlling hot flashes and night sweats.
How long do hot flashes last? Hot flashes sometimes start during perimenopause phase, or they may not start until after the last menstrual period has occurred. Usually, they last three to five years and are usually worse during the year following the last menstrual period.
Post menopausal and hot flashes. Studies suggest hot flashes occur in the first two years after menopause and gradually lessen. However, for some women, hot flashes can last indefinitely. Discouraging, but true! Hot flashes that occur during the night can disrupt sleep. In fact, some women report that their bed sheets become soaked when they experience hot flashes and night sweats.
How long do hot flashes last each time? Hot flashes usually last from seconds to a few minutes, but sometimes can last up to 30 minutes and occur several times a day. However, it must be said that it does feel quite longer. Again, it varies from woman to woman. Besides the hot feeling, hot flashes might be accompanied with sweating and the sensations of nausea and dizziness.
Hot flash treatments. What to do for hot flashes? The treatment to relieve hot flashes was implemented by using hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, we now know that HRT could have side affects which may cause more harm than good. Thus, it has been recommended to not just rely on prescription drugs used in hormone replacement therapy.
Clothing for hot flashes and night sweats. Choosing the appropriate clothing for hot flashes is important too. One of the best clothing for hot flashes is to dress in layers. Wear in light clothes and add warm clothes on outer layer. You can remove your outer layer when you get hot flashes and dress back as soon as the hot flashes end, to overcome the chills. You should choose clothes made out of natural fibers such as cotton. It’s even better if you can find clothes with moisture wicking fabric because it can do a better job of drawing moisture away compared to original cotton.
Controlling hot flashes. If you’re asking about what is the best medicine for hot flashes? The answer is you might don’t need medicine to deal with hot flashes. Understanding your body is the first step to be back in control, thus helps you handle the hot flashes.
And the first step to understand your body is by knowing your triggers. Avoid certain food that causes hot flashes such as spicy foods, hot drinks, alcohols, etc. Although it varies from woman to woman, you might experience hot flashes after eating these kinds of food. You can take some notes if you experience hot flashes after eating certain food for further references. Smoking and an overweight body might increase the frequency and worsen the hot flashes too. Further reading: Menopause and Weight Loss.
Taking everything into consideration; the research, the case histories, and our own experiences, controlling hot flashes and night sweats - while a definite nuisance - is a very simple way. Just ignore them as much as possible. Accept them as part of the menopause cycle, and do not give them any more importance than you would an annoying stranger who just won’t leave you alone.
1 Catalyst: substance that does not itself changes, but speeds up a chemical reaction.
2 Hypothalamus: region of the brain controlling body-temperature, thirst, hunger, etc.
3 Thermoregulatory: the regulator of body temperatures thermoregulatory