There are approximately 34 menopause symptoms. In the top 5 of the most reported symptoms and synonymous with the menopause is… Hot Flushes.
Hot flushes (and night sweats) can have a massive impact on a woman’s life. It often leaves some women not wanting to go out due to the frequency and intensity of their hot flushes. By understanding what causes hot flushes, managing your hot flush triggers and making lifestyle changes you will notice your hot flushes lose their intensity, become less frequent and leave you feeling more in control of your menopause. You get your life back!
Unless you experience what a hot flush feels like it is very hard to appreciate the intensity of the heat a woman feels when an episode occurs. Trying to explain to someone how it feels is difficult as there really is nothing to compare it to which will make others understand what it is like. This makes it extremely difficult to manage in work situations where the woman needs to be cooled down, but co-workers are reluctant to have windows open or fans on in the coldest of winters. Loved ones also find it amusing as the individual reaches for a fan, opens a window or begins to peel of her clothing. For a woman experiencing hot flushes it is certainly not something to laugh about, but laugh we do as it is sometimes, the only way to get through it.
What causes Hot Flushes?
Scientists are not completely sure as to why or how they occur, but they do concur that the hypothalamus, a small region of the brain, is involved in the process.
The hypothalamus is located at the base of the brain near the pituitary gland. It is responsible for releasing hormones, controlling metabolic functions and regulating body temperature.
As oestrogen levels decline it causes vasomotor symptoms: sudden increase of blood flow causing heat sensation in the chest, neck and face. This process triggers the hypothalamus to release a hormone which increases heart rate causing blood vessels to dilate. This increased blood flow causes the body to produce sweat as a cooling mechanism.
Hot Flush Triggers
Declining oestrogen is responsible for hot flushes, but certain triggers can also bring on a hot flush episode. This is due to the trigger causing the body to “heat up” and responding accordingly by releasing hormones in to the blood stream to cool the body down.
These triggers may contribute to the intensity, duration and frequency of a hot flush:
• Spicy Foods
By making changes to your lifestyle you can minimise the impact hot flushes have on the body. Remember whatever changes you make may take time for the body to adjust itself. Therefore, be consistent, keep going and don’t give up.
Top 5 Tips for controlling hot flushes:
1. Keep a journal. Each time you have a hot flush write down the duration, intensity level, what food or drink you had prior to the onset. Also note any activity you were doing and how stressed you are feeling. If you are making lifestyle changes, journalling will help you keep track and see how far you have come.
2. Cut out or cut down on alcohol. If you like a glass of wine of an evening and experience hot flushes, cut it out completely for a few weeks. See if alcohol is your trigger.
3. Avoid spicy foods. If you regularly eat spicy foods, try less spicy meals, or cut out completely to see if this helps.
4. Exercise –stress and being overweight are hot flush triggers, by introducing exercise into your daily routine you are helping your body to cope with stress and manage your weight gain.
5. Meditate – introduce relaxation techniques to help you lower your stress levels. Meditation is beneficial in reducing stress and is easy to do and costs nothing… just your time. If meditation is not for you there are other relaxation techniques for you to explore. Consider mindfulness, yoga, guided visualisations, massage therapy or reiki. Also, don’t forget the simple pleasures like taking a walk or relaxing in the bath.
For further information and support on the menopause visit: https://www.mistressofthemenopause.com or find us on Facebook