Menopause and hot flush

 

Hot flushes, also known as hot flashes, and their tiresome sister night sweats are the bane of many a menopausal woman’s life. Why do you have them and how can you manage them?

HOT FLUSHES DEFINITION

It’s when you have a sudden creeping or sweeping heat across the upper body that lasts a few minutes, which can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. They have a habit of appearing at the most inconvenient times!

If you are spending your days burning up uncontrollably… download Stella.

HOW LIKELY ARE HOT FLUSHES DURING MENOPAUSE?

  • These symptoms are experienced by three in every four menopausal women
  • Menopause generally begins at 50-55. Hot flushes may happen up to a few years before periods stop and a few years after menopause too
  • Research has revealed that, on average, women can experience hot flushes for an average of 10 years
  • Your lifestyle – what you eat, drink and if you smoke – could mean you are more susceptible to hot flushes

Read more about the stages of menopause.

SIGNS OF HOT FLUSHES

A sudden feeling of heat sweep across your upper body

Visible red flushing or blotches on your face, neck and/or chest

Sweating unexpectedly during the day or at night

A rapid heartbeat and/or palpitations

HOW CAN YOU MINIMALISE HOT FLUSHES?

Did you know that changing your lifestyle and avoiding certain things that can cause blood vessels to dilate can really help keep your symptoms under control? Here are six things you can try.

1. Avoid alcohol. This will make a big impact, especially red wine. It disrupts sleep and blood-sugar balance. 

2. Take care of your diet. Avoid spicy foods, such as chilies, paprika and cayenne pepper. Reduce caffeine, such as coffee, tea, green tea, energy drinks and other fizzy drinks. It increases your heart rate and dilates blood vessels.

Follow a diet low in saturated fat and salt and high in Vitamin D and calcium. Eating foods rich in phytoestrogens, which mimic oestrogen, might help.

3. Increase exercise. It has been shown to help reduce hot flushes by 60%. Aim for 500 minutes a week, including two and a half hours of cardio exercise, such as jogging or pedalling at a pace that causes sweating and increased heart rate.

4. Quit smoking. Smokers have more hot flushes than non-smokers.

5. Keep cool: Helpful tips include, wear lightweight layers you can remove quickly – you can buy menopause-friendly nightwear engineered to wick away sweat. Use sheets and blankets for bedding instead of a duvet, so you can adapt to your temperature easily. Invest in a cooling face spray and fan for when the heat hits.

6. Watch your stress. Practice mindfulness, have plenty of breaks and time for yourself.

Hot flushes and menopause

It’s not certain why hot flushes happen. It is believed that declining hormone levels can affect the part of the brain that controls body temperature, the hypothalamus.

This means the body incorrectly identifies a rise in temperature, which in turn dilates blood vessels and causes sweat breakouts.

In most cases the body resets itself over time and regulates temperature correctly again.

Read Jeneva’s advice on how to manage hot flushes at work.

Hot flushes and night sweats can disrupt sleep, which can impact your day-to-day ability to function.

Recent research has revealed a link between hot flushes and heart health – adjusting lifestyle factors can minimise your risk.

Recent research (although indirect) has revealed a link between a lack of sleep and dementia. With more than two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients being women, managing hot flushes and night sweats is important for long-term brain health.

If you are one of the one in 10 women who find hot flushes unbearable, don’t suffer alone and ask your doctor for help.

If you have additional symptoms such as weight loss, diarrhoea, weakness, fatigue or rapid heartbeat then see your doctor.

I can now keep calm if I feel heat coming on and remind myself that the moment will pass.”

Ellie

DISCOVER MORE

How to deal with embarrassing symptoms at work. Read more

How digestive issues during menopause led me to a new business. Read more

Menopause is something to accept and embrace. Read more

WHAT HOT FLUSH RELIEF IS AVAILABLE?

Download Stella for personalised cognitive behaviour therapy for hot flushes during menopause

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