Say the word "menopause" and two words - "hot
flashes" - immediately come to mind. Hot flashes, and their evening
cousin night sweats, are common menopause symptoms, affecting more than
60 percent of menopausal women. Hot flashes are highly individual.
Hot flashes can be as mild as a warm,
brief flush or intense enough to pull you out of a deep sleep in
sweat-soaked sheets. The fortunate minority of women sail through
menopause with minimal hot flashes. Other women experience hot flashes
as infrequently as once a month. Then there are the flushed-faced women
who carry a fan with them wherever they go...
Hot flashes can last a few seconds or
30 minutes or longer. Hot flashes usually last three to five minutes.
For about 80 percent of women experiencing hot flashes, this menopause
symptom only lasts one or two years. The minority of menopausal women
experiencing hot flashes will have hot flashes for five or more years.
Hot flashes continue to plague a very small percentage of women for more
than five years after the onset of menopause.
Hot flashes are often the first sign
that menopause is just around the corner. Women in menopause typically
examine the causes of hot flashes and effective control of hot flashes
before they address any other issue of menopause. Not only are hot
flashes uncomfortable, controlling them is important, because they
may cause embarrassing problems, especially for those women in the
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Causes - Reasons for Hot Flashes:
Fluctuating estrogen levels are
blamed for the causes of hot flashes. As the estrogen hormone drops, the
body attempts to compensate by releasing other hormones. The body's
attempt at hormonal balance causes the body's temperature to fluctuate
when the brain reacts to the internal stimuli by dilating blood vessels
to arms, legs and head dilate. The body chills when the blood vessels
constrict to cool the body.
Hot flashes often begin with a
prickly, "skin crawling" sensation, sometimes accompanied by rapid
heartbeat, headache or a feeling of pressure in the head. The onset of a
hot flash can feel like a panic attack. As the heat spreads from your
chest and head, your skin begins to flush or redden. As the flush
decreases in intensity the headache, rapid heartbeat or anxiety will
also subside. Cold chills follow the hot flashes as body temperature
readjusts. Women often feel faint or dizzy as hot flashes subside.
Night sweats are typically more
intense than the daytime version of hot flashes. Night sweats disturb
sleep, which causes irritability, fatigue and increased anxiousness. If
this occurs over an extended period of time, these symptoms can trigger
depression and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Thin women tend to suffer more often
from hot flashes since they have less fat to insulate against the sudden
internal temperature changes. Women who had their ovaries surgically
removed also tend to experience more intense hot flashes.
In addressing the causes of hot
flashes to gain control of hot flashes, women often resorted to
synthetic hormones to stabilize hormonal levels. This is not the case
any more, as women today are increasingly better educated about the
harmful effects of hormone replacement therapy. New studies showing
significantly increased health risks related to hormone replacement
therapy spurred a renewed interest in seeking out natural and healthy
ways to address the causes of hot flashes and for the control of hot
flashes and other menopause symptoms.
Control of Hot Flashes and Cure for
Hot Flashes: What's a Woman to Do?
For control of hot flashes, many
women swear by black cohosh and for good reason. It works! Studies
suggest that black cohosh, an herb widely hailed for "female problems,"
effectively prevents hormonal surges and fluctuation causes of hot
The effectiveness rate of black
cohosh in the causes of hot flashes and cure for hot flashes does vary
between studies. While one study found that 86 percent of women taking
black cohosh for over six weeks found control of hot flashes, a German
study placed that number at about 80 percent within eight weeks of
routinely taking black cohosh. Even using the smaller research number,
black cohosh still emerges as a strong alternative for the control of
hot flashes by buffering the causes of hot flashes.
Black cohosh also effectively
provides relief of other symptoms of menopause including mood swings,
heart palpitations, anxiety and depression.
The Preserve formula blends black
cohosh with dong quai and sage, along with a number of other ingredients
to provide relief of menopause symptoms. This combination provides more
complete coverage of menopause symptoms than soy protein, another widely
used alternative for the control of hot flashes and other menopause
symptoms. The Preserve formula is part of a comprehensive menopause
solution package called the Women's Strategy Pac.
Other women swear by progesterone
cream. Natural progesterone research found that 83 percent of a study
group reported less hot flashes. That study was conducted by doctors at
the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pathology at St. Luke's
Hospital in Bethlehem, PA. They studied 102 menopausal women who were
divided into two groups. One group used 1/4 tsp. of natural progesterone
cream on their skin daily. The other group used a placebo. After one
year both groups were compared. The researchers found that 83 percent of
the group that used the progesterone cream reported less hot flashes.
Only 19 percent of the placebo group reported any benefit.
These practical hot flashes hints and tips will also help.
Dress in layers. Remove and replace
layers of clothing as needed.
Wear cotton clothing or clothing
made of other natural fibers. Natural fibers allow the skin to breathe
better than synthetic fibers.
At the first sign of hot flashes,
drink a glass of cold water. If you happen to be in the kitchen when
hot flashes hit, stick your head in the freezer!
Keep a thermos of ice water and a
fan by the bed at night if prone to night sweats. It also helps to
lower the bedroom temperature at night.
Use layers of cotton sheets and
blankets on the bed as well. If experiencing night sweats, shed a
layer or two.
Allergen barrier products on beds will help when night sweats and
sleeplessness are complicated by allergies and respiratory problems.
Exercise - at least 30 minutes four
times weekly. Women who exercise regularly and maintain a balanced
diet suffer less from hot flashes. Always consult with your doctor
before starting an exercise program.
Include sex in your exercise
regime. Studies have linked an active sex life to the decrease in hot
Watch the spicy foods. They can
increase the internal body temperature and women with hot flashes do
not need any more of that.
Alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks
can also trigger hot flashes. Keep these to a minimum or eliminate
them completely from the diet.
Use relaxation techniques. Breathe
deep and relax at the first sign of hot flashes, knowing the hot flash
will pass better with a calmed body.