On Hot Flashes

Hot Flashes (Photo Credit: Healthcaredir)
Hot Flashes (Photo Credit: Healthcaredir)
Hot Flashes (Photo Credit: Healthcaredir)
Hot Flashes (Photo Credit: Healthcaredir)

Miss Marian was quietly smiling during class.  She was pleasantly remembering something.  Suddenly, her students noticed how red her face and neck became; Ms. Marian was sweating profusely, most especially on the sides of her face.  She rubbed her face and neck repeatedly with her hanky while fanning herself briskly with the other hand; although the air conditioning was working properly.  Was she sick?  The students  got distracted with the seeming discomfort of their instructor.  Should they take her to the clinic?’  her students asked of her.

“No…I’ll be fine.  This will only take a few minutes.  Don’t worry, class; this comes with aging.” she told her class.  She went to the washroom to be refreshed by cool water for a while.

In truth, she was experiencing “hot flashes,”  a feeling of warmth which spreads all over the body, but is most felt in the head and neck areas for about thirty seconds, a few minutes, a half hour, or more.  Some women even feel as if they are going to faint especially when they experience hot flashes with rapid heartbeat.   If you’re in a cramped and less-ventilated area, that is not a remote possibility.  Hot flashes  could occur at any time of the day, or even night, during sleep; accompanied by night sweats.

These hot flashes is a common symptom experienced by women approaching the early stages of the menopausal transition, but not all women nearing their menopause experience this symptom.The underlying cause of hot flashes is attributed to the complex hormonal changes which accompany the aging process; the declining levels of estrogen when as woman is nearing menopause.

However, hot flashes is not exclusive to women as they can also occur in men, but in circumstances other than the perimenopaue in women as a result of certain uncommon medical conditions which affect the process of thermoregulation in the body. An example of which is  the ‘carcinoid syndrome‘ resulting from a type of endocrine tumor that secretes large amounts of the serotonin hormone  and which may cause hot flashes. Moreover, hot flashes can also develop as a side effect of some medications and can sometimes occur with severe infections or cancers that may be associated with fevers and/or night sweats.
With some women, hot flashes occur a few times each week or every few minutes throughout the day; while worst sufferers experience dozens of hot flashes per day. It may begin to appear several years before menopause starts and last for years afterwards. Other women undergoing menopause never have hot flashes or might have only mild or infrequent flashes. Hot weather or  overheated rooms make hot flashes more probable and intense.
It is always best to consult your doctor about frequent bouts of hot flashes.  Traditionally, hot flashes have been treated with either oral or transdermal forms of estrogen. HT or Hormone Therapy, also referred to as HRT or Hormone Replacement Therapy  or PHT, the Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy  consists of estrogens alone or a combination of estrogens and progesterone; which are said to be effective in reducing the frequency of hot flashes and their severity.
But when these hot flashes are less frequent and tolerable, there are some tips to counter-attack hot flashes and night sweats:
  • Wear loose and comfortable clothing, daytime or night-time, to lessen intensity of hot flashes.
  • Avoid enclosed areas or hot places; ventilate your home and keep it as cool as possible, especially your bedroom while you sleep.
  • Take a cool shower to have some instant relief if you’re at home.
  • Strive for a healthy weight by taking plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and more soy-rich food like tofu and soy milk  which are rich in isoflavones.
  • Avoid or minimize consumption of  alcohol and spicy foods.
  • Avoid or minimize coffee drinking as caffeine could aggravate hot flashes attacks.
  • Engage in some forms of exercise to strengthen your muscles and improve your overall health.
  • You could try the black cohosh as a herbal remedy made from the roots of plant in the buttercup family, available in health-food stores as Remifemin, a pill that contains black cohosh extract. However, due to isolated reports of adverse effects on the liver, people with liver disease should not take black cohosh and should consult your doctor first.
  • Quit smoking (if you’re a smoker!).  Studies showed that menopausal women who smoke experienced more hot flashes than non-smokers because of nicotine’s stimulating effects.

If you’re a working woman, it would do well to always keep some change of clothing, toiletries and mini-towels handy for those excessive sweating episodes.  Keep cool.   ^__^