You know those women in church that fan themselves when you are sitting there perfectly comfortable? I always thought, “What is their problem?”, which was a big mistake, because it seems that whenever I do that, then that thing that I am so critical about happens to me. That’s right. A few years ago hot flashes became a part of my life.
So, to help you non-hot-flashers understand what a woman may suffer, because we need all the sympathy we can get, and for all of you hot-flash-sufferers who would like to know a little bit more as well as feel more understood, I wrote this article.
First, What Are Hot Flashes Like? Well, they can vary in duration, lasting 2-5 minutes – sometimes longer, and in intensity, feeling like anywhere from a warm flush to a human combustible unit that might explode. They start gradually, many times preceded with kind of a weird panicky feeling around the chest spreading up and outward. They reach a peak heat, then gradually fades. Sometimes it leaves you feeling chilled afterwards. Hot flashes have friends that often accompany them: Nausea, Headache, Dizzy, Panic, and Doom. The heart rate can go up considerably as well. It takes immense self-control when a hot flash hits to sit or stand there conversing with people pretending YOU ARE FINE and hoping they don’t notice your face beading up and/or reddening.
What Causes Them? This is not well understood, but it is pretty well agreed upon that the body is confused due to a hormone imbalance, too little or too much estrogen, with progesterone also possibly playing a role. The hypothalamus in our brain is often blamed, which is our bodys’ temperature regulator. Many things can trigger a hot flash like falling asleep, waking up, drinking hot liquids, eating spicy foods, stress, anger, alcohol, hot weather, and merely thinking about one. Yeah, pretty much just about everything.
Who Gets Them? They are common among women experiencing hormone changes due to peri-menopause or menopause or hysterectomies, even pregnancy or pre-menstrual times. Not everyone is plagued by them, but according to Dr. Christine Northrup, 70 to 85% of women are, with hot flashes being the most common menopausal symptom. Hot flashes can last for years, and are more common in overweight women and smokers. There are much lower incidences in those same countries that have lower incidences of everything, read, those who haven’t adopted our junky way of eating and lifestyles.
What Can One Do About Them? There are some medications that Big Pharma offers. A couple of them are psych meds, such as venlafaxine (Effexor) and fluoxetine (Prozac), the other is a neuro med, gabapentin. Both have many side effects and treat the symptoms rather than address the causes. Then there are also hormone replacement therapies (HRT’s). If you want to go the more natural route you can try exercise, eating more vegetables, and various supplements like black cohosh, dong quai, and even a homeopathic one called lachesis mutus. Acupuncture treatments are also reported to be helpful for reducing and relieving hot flashes as well. Drinking adequate amounts of water, reducing stress, meditation, Epsom salt baths with magnesium, sleeping in a cool room, avoiding alcohol and excess coffee, weight loss, and more smiling/laughter can also help.
There is no definitive answer, and it seems what works for one woman does not necessarily work for another. You will need to experiment to see what works for you. And you might find this book to be helpful, The Hormone Fix, by Dr. Anna Cabeca, triple-board certified MD trained in functional/alternative medicine. I have found her to be very compassionate and down-to-earth.
Conclusion: Yes, hot flashes are horrible! I really hope you find solutions that work for you, and I know that it is possible. Wishing you all the coolness and comfort.
Consider working with me, as one of my specialties is anti-aging, and I think that hormonal balance is an important part of that. I want to help you trailblaze hot-flashlessness...Contact me for a free consultation to see if we would be a great fit working together towards your health goals.
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You might also be interested in reading this article that I wrote: High Cholesterol: Are Statins the Only Option?
It is eye opening!
Disclaimer: Please consult with your healthcare provider for advise before starting any treatments with supplements.
2 thoughts on “Hot Flash 101”
What joy awaits me! I've also heard evening primrose oil helps. And some people have been known to carry those icy gel packs. Good luck.
I love your ‘Do you care?’ perspective at the bottom! Cut straight through, but in a good way!