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 am offering this mini blog course.
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. One is a psych med, the other a neuro med. Both have many side effects. Then there are hormone replacements, exercise, eating more vegetables, and various supplements like black cohosh, dong quai, and even a homeopathic one called lachesis mutus. Acupuncture treatments are 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, 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. Consider working with me, as one of my specialties is anti-aging. And you might find this book to be helpful, The Wisdom of Menopause, by Dr. Christine Northrup.
Yes, hot flashes are horrible, and thus I wish you coolness and comfort. But in the meantime, to put things in perspective, I would like to add a spiritual point of reference. A while back, after a series of severe hot flashes and a bad night, being woken up many times, I prayed to the Lord, not in a disrespectful way, but more of a pleading way, “I am really suffering. Do you care?”. And right away I felt His answer to me was, “I know about suffering. I suffered for you. Do you care?” (gulp) The longer I live the more I appreciate how important perspective is.
Disclaimer: Please consult your healthcare provider for advise before starting any treatments with supplements.