Hot Flashes and Menopause
Ever woken up in the middle of the night completely soaked through? Do you experience random episodes of sweating or chills during the day? If so, you are probably already familiar with hot flashes, one of the most common signs of menopause experienced by women in North America. 80% to 90% of North American women experience hot flashes on a daily basis during menopause. The majority of these women will suffer from the dreaded sweats for about two years, but a small percentage will have to endure them for five years or more. Read on to discover more about hot sweats and the best ways to cool off during menopause.
A Hot Topic
As you go through your hot flashes you are probably wondering what exactly is going on with your body. You've never felt this way before! Well, no one is entirely sure about the causes of hot flashes. It is generally thought that declining hormones in your body are the cause of the rush of blood, palpitations, and sweats associated with hot flashes. However, other factors, including fluctuating neurotransmitters in the brain, may also be reasons for hot flashes
As your estrogen and progesterone levels drop during menopause, your body produces more of a brain hormone called gonadotropin hormone (GnRH) in order to force fertility. GnRH is also responsible for regulating heat sensors in the brain. When higher levels of GnRH are present, your body mistakenly thinks that it is overheating. Your body attempts to cool itself down by opening blood vessels in the head and neck, which causes perspiration.
Feeling the Heat
During a hot flash, sensations of heat move up your waist, chest, neck, and face and may cause you to experience sensations of nausea, suffocation, or even dizziness. Perspiration that you exude during your hot flash will soon cool you down, causing you to experience rapid chills all over your body. Typically, a hot flash last only a couple of minutes, however, some unfortunate women can experience hot flashes lasting up to 30 minutes. Women can experience as many as 15 hot flashes in one day, but typically hot flashes occur 2 to 4 hours apart during menopause.
Sweaty Side Effects
The most obvious side effect of hot flashes is the sweating! The amount of sweat that your body produces during a hot flash will vary depending on your stage of menopause, your diet, and any medications that you are taking. Some women get away with just a sweaty lip while others feel like they've run 10 miles in a fur coat! If your transition between perimenopause and menopause is fairly quick, you can probably expect your symptoms to be a little worse.
Hot flashes can cause you to feel more than just sticky though. It's not unusual to feel completely exhausted, as though all your energy has been zapped for as much as an hour after a hot flash. On top of that, hot flashes often occur at night, making it impossible to get a good night's sleep.
Hot flashes leave a lot of women feeling very anxious because they are hard to predict. Though you may feel embarrassed if you have a hot sweat at a restaurant, at a friend's house, or during that big board meeting, remember: most women will go through this at some stage in their life. No one will judge you over a little sweat.
There are some easy ways to stay ahead of hot flashes during menopause. Natural menopause treatments such as changing your diet, being aware of your triggers, and learning to relax can really improve the situation. If your hot sweats are interfering with your daily routine, talk with your doctor. She may have some suggestions that will work wonders.
Here are some tips to help you stay cool during those sweats:
- Know your triggers. Keep a daily record of your hot sweats, including how long they last and when they occur. Certain foods often exacerbate hot sweats especially spicy foods, hot drinks, and alcohol.
- Wear layers. Dress in light clothes and then add warm clothes on top. If you are hit with a sweat, you can easily strip off a layer.
- Use cotton bed linens. Cotton is more breathable and absorbent than other fabrics. It will keep you cooler at night and help you get a great rest.
- Watch your diet. Soy products have been shown to reduce hot flashes in menopausal women. Drink lots of water and juice and keep a cool drink by you bed.
- Relax! Learn yoga, listen to music, or engage in quiet meditation.
- Investigate Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Oral or transdermal estrogen and progesterone can help keep your fluctuating hormones in check, stopping hot flashes before they start.