Hot Flushes and Menopause

Hot flushes, sometimes known as hot flashes, are one of the most common symptoms of the menopause. They affect approximately 80% of us.

Hot flushes are one of the primary symptoms of menopause.

Hot flushes are one of the primary symptoms of menopause.

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Hot flushes and night sweats

Along with irregular periods, hot flushes are one of the primary signs of the onset of the menopause. For most women hot flushes occur occasionally and do not cause much distress. However, for a smaller percentage of us, around 20%, hot flushes can be severe and interfere with our quality of life and sleep. Women tend to experience hot flushes for about two years on average, but for a small percentage of us, approximately 10%, hot flushes can continue for up to 15 years!

What does it feel like to have a hot flush/flash?

A hot flush is a vasomotor or blood vessel symptom that can vary in intensity and duration. A typically hot flush will last for between 30 seconds and 10 minutes.  We may experience an unannounced brief feeling of intense heat that makes our face and neck feel red and hot and possibly look blotchy.  Some women report what feels like a sudden rush of blood from their toes to the top of their head.  We may feel very hot and then chilly. The hot flush can sometimes cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat and pulse, including heart palpitations. The skin may feel sweaty and we may also feel dizzy.

During and after a hot flush some women experience headaches, shaking and dizziness. These physical symptoms can compound psychological symptoms such as feelings of anxiety, depression and lack of confidence.

Why do hot flushes occur?

Hot flushes are caused by fluctuating hormone levels especially oestrogen and progesterone. These fluctuations impact the functioning of the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for controlling body temperature, appetite, sex hormones and sleep.

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Triggers for hot flushes

Hot flushes may be triggered by caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol and external heat sources like a hot bath or an overheated room. For some women, stress and tension can cause more frequent hot flushes. Those of us who smoke are more than twice as likely to experience severe hot flushes than women who have never smoked.

Night sweats

During the night our bodies can experience symptoms similar to hot flushes. Night sweats can disrupt your sleep, possibly adding to other symptoms of the menopause, such as insomnia, anxiety, depression and memory lapses. 

We are likely to have more frequent hot flushes after monthly periods have stopped altogether, and they may last for several years. They do however tend to stop once oestrogen levels stabilise. 

Some of us only experience hot flushes during the day, others only experience night sweats.

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Hot flushes and night sweats - solutions

Hot flushes and night sweats affect each of us differently and for many of us no treatment will be required.

The following is a range of self-help remedies that may help you cope with these common symptoms of menopause:

  1. Keep a journal to record the frequency, duration, and possible triggers for hot flushes and night sweats.
  2. Reduce or avoid consumption of spicy food or alcohol if they are triggers.
  3. Wear cotton clothing. Wear loose thin layers and a layer that can be taken on and off like a cardigan or jacket, to take the heat out of a hot flush.
  4. Use bedclothes that you can throw off easily. Consider lying on a towel, which can be changed easily if night sweats are intense.
  5. If stress is a factor consider including yoga or mindfulness in your daily plan.
  6. Wipes or a water spray can help lower skin temperature. 
  7. Cucumber drink – liquidise a cucumber and add to a pint of water, store in the fridge and take a glassful before going to bed.
  8. Take regular moderate physical exercise to help circulation and make your body more adaptable to temperature changes. Weight management is key to ensuring a positive menopause and reducing many symptoms of menopause.
  9. Turn down the thermostat on your heating and make sure to drink plenty of cold water.
  10. Consult your doctor if you would like to have blood tests to establish whether you are in the phase known as perimenopause.
  11. Consider the addition of herbal remedies in consultation with a herbalist.
  12. Siberian Ginseng, in capsule form, is good for hot flushes, night sweats, headaches and palpitations; it also gives you more energy.
  13. Sage tea or tincture taken as an infusion has tonic and hormonal properties. It helps with inflammation and excessive perspiration and it also has oestrogenic properties.
  14. Vitamin E in supplement form can help reduce hot flushes.
  15. Homeopathic remedies could be helpful. Have a look at Lachesis, Graphites, Pulsatilla and Sulphuric acid to see if they match your pattern. Consult a professional homeopath.

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The Best Friend’s Guide: Anxiety - A Practical Toolkit For Moving Beyond Anxiety at Menopause - €12

Thanks Girls another great book ! Well done My Second Spring, the advice is practical, down to earth and I’m already working on my toolkit. Thank you so much

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We canvassed reader's for their tried and tested remedies for hot flushes and got the following feedback - some of these might help you. Here's what they recommend:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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