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HOT FLUSHES

When speaking of hot flashes, or hot flushes, the thing that always comes into mind is menopause or perimenopause. For a woman who is in the perimenopausal age, which can sometimes happen as early as the thirties, one of the symptoms that she experiences is hot flashes.  

Hot flashes is a feeling of extreme heat, coupled with sweating, and some occasional rapid beating of the heart, with visual redness of the skin. Several women report that the sensation of heat usually starts in the face, as if a sudden wave of penetrating heat has rushed inside the body. Then, there exists sweating and the sensation that is as if one is on fire. Hot flashes is not a dangerous body symptom, but it is very uncomfortable.  At times, all one wants to do is to take off her clothes and go to the coolest place for relief.

However, this symptom is not just exclusive for women. In fact, a man’s experience of hot flashes is not considered as unusual especially in cases such as andropause, or the male menopause.  Hot flashes in men can also been in cases when a man is having a serious deficiency of testosterone. If a woman’s hot flashes is caused by the decreasing estrogen levels in the body, men’s hot flashes is due to the decreasing testosterone levels which causes the hypothalamus to believe that the body is trying to overheat. The hypothalamus will then send signals to the blood vessels along the surface of the skin to dilate in order to cool off. Men and women will therefore experience a cold, clammy sensation coupled with sweating that lasts for a few minutes to hours, commonly in the morning and at night time.

When one experiences hot flashes, there is no need to use artificial means, such as synthetic hormones, to find relief. There are actually a number of natural and non-aggressive ways for one to be able to alleviate the discomfort.

1.      Exercise

Although there are still quite a few research studies to attest to its veracity, several women agree that exercise or increased levels of physical activities can help alleviate symptoms of hot flashes. The National Institute of Health (NIH) have conducted studies to find proof for this claim and the proof they can find so far is that there is a connection between increasing physical activities and the decreasing menopausal symptoms.  According to Dr. Sheryl Sherman of the NIH, the experiences of women who credits exercise as hot flashes-reducing activity might be due to the fact that they are less preoccupied and that they could no longer feel the symptom when they are busy with other activities. But no matter how, it is important for men and women, especially during the menopausal age, to engage in plenty of exercise, like swimming, bicycling, dancing and walking, in order to uplift one’s well-being as well as reduce the chances of gaining weight caused by the lowering of estrogen and testosterone levels.

2.      Wear light layers of loose clothing

Another means to manage hot flashes is by wearing light layers of clothing made of breathable fabrics. During the summer months, when the environment is warmer, wearing lighter clothes, especially when it is made of lighter fibers, such as cotton and linen, can help ease the discomfort. Furthermore, having light layers of clothing will make it easier to remove when the feeling of hot flashes pervades. When sleeping at night, where hot flashes happens a lot, the use of thinner blankets is recommended.

3.      Avoid stress, spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, cigarette smoke, and tight clothing

Spicy foods, especially those containing capsaicin, stimulate the nerve endings directly that causes dilation of blood vessels in the brain. This is also true for alcohol which causes one to become hot and sweaty. Caffeine, stress and wearing occlusive clothing have the tendency to increase the levels of the neurotransmitters epinephrine and norepinephrine, which increases the flow of blood which will eventually result to warm feeling. Smoking cigarettes also has the same effect. As the body tries to get rid of the heat due to these substances, the body triggers hot flashes. It is therefore advised that one take on the necessary measures to reduce stress levels and to avoid the intake of these types of foods to help alleviate the symptom, especially three hours before bedtime, so that nocturnal hot flashes can be avoided.

4.      Use herbs such as black cohosh, evening primrose oil, and flaxseed oil

Several herbs and plants have the reputation of lowering the symptoms of menopause, especially hot flashes. Several studies were made on black cohosh, flaxseed and evening primrose, called phytoestrogens, against placebo. It has shown that those taking these herbs and plants experienced a lesser degree of hot flashes. In Mayo Clinic, a study was made that showed that those who are taking about 40 mg of grounded flaxseeds each day has reduced episodes of hot flushes. Flaxseed and its oil can be used as an alternative to those who are trying to opt for hormone replacement therapy.

5.      Drink lots of water

Hydration is important especially during perimenopausal stage. The cooling system of the body can, at some point, go haywire during this stage. The best way to manage the cooling system is to increase fluids, particularly water, in order for the body to stay cool. By having a ready glass of water every time, hot flashes may not only be prevented, but the recommended two liters of daily fluid intake can also be met.

6.      No hot baths before bedtime

Saunas, hot baths and showers are relaxing. But for those who are susceptible of experiencing hot flashes, they should lessen their time of exposure to prevent elevation of the body temperature which will eventually increase the chances of getting recurrent hot flashes, sweating and redness.

7.      Utilize Relaxation Exercises such as Meditation and Yoga

Relaxation exercises are used to reduce stress levels. Yoga, meditation, biofeedback, hypnosis, visualizations and massage are means to reduce stress. Stress increases the release of the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine in the body. These two hormones will increase the flow of blood through the surface of the skin. Since blood carries heat, the body will then experience a warm to hot sensation and will produce sweat as a means for the body to try to cool itself. Since there will always be stress in human lives, the best way to reduce the physical effects of stress is to make use of relaxations techniques.

 

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