Hot flushes are one of the most common symptoms that we experience during the menopause. It’s a sudden and intense heat that arises within the body, caused by fluctuating hormones; particularly oestrogen and progesterone. Luckily, there are many ways in which we can overcome the heat and spontaneous sweating.
Why do we have hot flushes during the menopause?
When our oestrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate and fall, this has a huge affect on how our hypothalamus (a part of our brain) operates, functions and regulates our body temperature, our appetite, our sexual energy and our sleep patterns.
Hot flushes can occur from carrying excess heat in the body from foods and drinks that contain natural heat, such as caffeine, hot spices and alcohol. Cigarette smoking is also believed to be a significant cause of hot flushes.
What do hot flushes feel like?
The intensity and duration of a hot flush can completely vary from person to person. Some report having a hot flush for thirty seconds, whereas others experience it for ten minutes. The frequency can also differ, some women can have hot flushes several times an hour and some have them a few times per week. It tends to feel like a huge rush of energy surging through the body, which may start really hot but then become very cold. Hot flushes can cause finger tingling, facial redness or blotchiness, sweating, mental dizziness or headaches, body shaking, irregular heart rates and, in some cases, heart palpitations. Hot flushes can also trigger the feelings of anxiety, depression and a general dip in self-esteem.
What can help with my hot flushes?
There are so many lifestyle changes we can make to help to lessen the intensity and frequency of hot flushes. It's definitely worth spending time to figure out what your own personal triggers are. What helps a lot of women is keeping a journal to note down any food or drink you've had, your activity, feelings and the environment. Whilst this can feel time-consuming, it's so valuable for unearthing any particularly patterns that trigger hot flushes, so we can best limit or avoid them.
Popular remedies for hot flushes:
- Enjoy a generous intake of ‘cooling’ plant-based foods: fruits, vegetables, grains, greens an herbs
- Reduce your intake of ‘heating’ foods such as meat, spicy food, caffeine and alcohol
- Avoid/severely limit smoking and secondary smoke
- Wear clothing that best supports hot flushes
- Keep your body hydrated
- Meditation can help to manage stress levels; stress is a big contributing factor for hot flushes
- Take some exercise as this can help rid the body of excess heat; why not try dancing, yoga, walking or pilates?
- Use a supplement containing isoflavones. Some of the most popular are made from fermented soya beans
- Herbal supplements such as Ginseng, Saw Palmeto, Evening Primrose Oil, Clary Sage and particularly Black Cohosh have received a lot of recognition for their positive effects on hot flushes.
If hot flushes are having a big impact on your life and you're struggling to cope with them, do consult your GP or doctor. They may offer you other medication such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to alleviate your hot flushes.