My mom recently came out to visit me and man-oh-man was she hot. Allow me to clarify that her visit occurred in the dead of winter in Ontario, with snow on the ground. Despite the chilly conditions she more than once scrambled out to the front porch while hastily tossing her sweater aside.
My children and I sat in awe of her fortitude and apparent disregard for the elements, and this was when I learned that menopause could make a lady a little wacky.
Seventy-five percent of menopausal women experience hot flashes to some degree. Researchers have actually pinpointed what section of the brain is causing hot flashes: the hypothalamus. This brilliant discovery does little to ease the mind of a woman who is wondering why in the world her body is revolting against her in such a way.
Causes Still not Agreed On
It turns out the specific cause of hot flashes is up for debate among researchers, but most seem to agree it has to do with the brain sending a signal to the body to overheat. Apparently the lowering levels of estrogen dont help matters, all adding up to a physiological combination that results in hot flashes.
Hot flashes vary in their degrees of severity. Some women may barely notice a hot flash occurring, while other women may have to stop whatever theyre doing and immediately peel off their clothes (especially humiliating in public places).
Night sweats can also be a product of menopause, and are generally considered in the same category as hot flashes.
The lucky twenty-five percent of women who do not experience hot flashes probably have a hard time understanding the inconvenience a hot flash can cause, not to mention the embarrassment. Many women who have hot flashes have visible reactions, including reddened faces and sweating.
There are some lifestyle factors that can make you more apt to have hot flashes. If you smoke now, or even if you ever smoked but have since quit, you can be more likely to have hot flashes in menopause.
Alcohol use also appears to have an effect on the likelihood of having hot flashes, in addition to caffeine usage and eating spicy foods. Eliminating smoking, drinking alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods may bring some relief.
Hot Flash Treatment
If you are already avoiding all the aforementioned vices and still have uncomfortable hot flashes there are some treatments available that may help you. Hormone replacement therapy can do wonders for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, but some women really do not like the idea of using hormone replacement therapy.
Hormone replacement therapy has its critics, and some believe it can wind up doing more harm than good. For those women there are herbal remedies that are easily accessible and may provide relief comparable to hormone replacement therapy.
It is important, however, to always discuss with your doctor any sort of supplements you are taking, herbal or otherwise, to ensure there is not a conflict with any preexisting conditions you have or other medications you are already taking. This is especially crucial considering many herbal supplement makers will suggest you take more than one type of supplement to see full benefits.
The same advice that is dished out by the medical community to the general public is especially pertinent to menopausal women experiencing uncomfortable hot flashes. Try to keep your diet balanced and healthy. Exercise regularly. Get enough sleep.
If you have never really paid attention to this advice then this may be the opportune time to take heed. Living a healthy lifestyle has been shown to lessen the effects of estrogen loss in women, thus leading to less menopausal symptoms.
You will probably still have hot flashes, but they may not be as severe. A healthy lifestyle, after all, will benefit you in other ways too, let alone with the menopause symptoms.
The good news is that hot flashes generally disappear in many women eventually. So if you have tried everything to no avail, just hang in there. Take solace in the fact that you probably wont have to deal with them for the rest of your life, and may someday find it funny that you used to stick your head in the freezer to cool down.
Like This Article? Sciencebeta has a free 3 times weekly digest of the most interesting and intriguing articles in psychology, neuroscience, neurology, and cognitive sciences. Want to give it a try? Subscribe right here