HOT FLASHES. Some call them hot flushes, night sweats, but no matter what you name them, they aren’t fun when they’re happening. I have suffered from hot flashes since my last period 26 years ago. In the beginning it was truly terrible. I would sit in a business meeting (mostly with men) and get that awful feeling – and you know what I’m talking about. I would start to feel irritated, my stomach would churn, my heart would beat faster and then the sweats would just take over my body and make me feel awful.
In those years I wore peel-off clothes. Off with the jacket, roll up the sleeves to my very light silky blouse and hope that my face didn’t turn too red in front of all those people. Then within seconds which felt like hours, I would get very cold. I would roll down my sleeves to my very light silk blouse, on with my jacket and it was gone. This would happen all day long.
At night it was the same. I would wear the lightest nightgown I could find, even in the dead of winter. It would wake me up out of a deep sleep and off with the cover, trying to find the coolest spot to place my hands to try and cool off. Again in seconds, which felt like forever, it was gone, until the next one arrived.
When I was in my office, my staff would look for me and usually find me with my head in the refrigerator trying to cool off!
WHAT CAUSES HOT FLASHES?
No one really knows for sure, but we do know that the decrease in estrogen affects the part of the brain that is related to our body’s “thermostat” and makes it seem extremely hot. Our brain then sends a message to cool down our body by increasing your heart rate, dilating blood vessels to circulate the blood to radiate off the heat which releases the sweat glands to cool you off. Sounds like a domino effect to me. But doesn’t make me feel any better.
It is noted that about 85 percent of women in the United States experiences some kind of hot flashes while in peri-menopause and during menopause. Those symptoms seem to decrease or completely go away after about two years after their periods stop.
But I seem to have fallen into the small category of about 20 to 50 percent of those women who continue to experience hot flashes well after menopause. Those episodes have decreased over the years, but when I get one of those extreme hot flashes, I place a cool towel on the trigger points like my wrists, neck, or breast bone.
I also find that exercising is a great relief to help with the everyday stress that can cause hot flashes. Relaxation, meditation, and visualization are also good tools to help the body keep cool and relaxed.
My little Secret: Be kind to your body. Take time out for yourself. It’s going to be a great year!