What are hot flashes?
A hot flash (flush) is a sudden feeling of intense warmth that usually occurs around your face, neck and chest (although some feel it through their limbs too). Your skin may redden or blush. They can occur during the day or at night (referred to as night sweats).
Other symptoms of a hot flash can include:
- a fast or uneven heartbeat
- heavy sweating
- a feeling like blood is rushing through your body
- A sudden feeling of warmth spreading through your upper body and face
- A flushed appearance with red, blotchy skin
- A chilled feeling as the hot flash lets up
Hot flashes can vary in frequency and intensity. Some women experience one every week or so, and others can get them a few times an hour. They can be as short as 30 seconds, or last over fifteen minutes. On average, symptoms persist for more than seven years. Some women have them for more than 10 years.
What causes hot flashes.
The majority (but not all) women going through perimenopause and menopause experience hot flashes. During menopause the lowering oestrogen levels impact on you body’s hypothalamius gland, which regulates your internal temperature.
During a hot flash, the following occurs:
- Blood vessels near the surface of your skin dialate and release heat. This creates the red flush you see on your skin.
- Your heart pumps faster.
- Your sweat glands open up. The sweat evaporates off your skin to cool down your body.
- Your body temperature can also rise several degrees.
A few diseases have also been linked to hot flashes, including:
What other variables may cause a hot flash?
Avoiding triggers may reduce the number of hot flashes you experience. These can include:
- consuming alcohol or caffeine
- eating spicy food
- feeling stressed
- being somewhere hot
- being overweight
- dressing too warmly
Dealing with hot flashes
- HRT (discuss with your doctor)
- Natural remedies or HRT substitutes
- Airconditioning in your bedroom
- Dress in layers
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid hot and spicy food
- Restrict caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Reduce body weight
- Cease smoking