Understanding Hot Flashes

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Published on March 14, 2018

Understanding Hot Flashes

Woman having a hot flash

Woman having a hot flashHot flashes are never comfortable. They involve a sudden onset of feeling flushed combined with the sensation of warmth or heat on your body or face. The exact cause of hot flashes is unknown, however it is suggested they may be related to changes in circulation and a drop in a female hormone called estrogen.

How Long Will I Experience Hot Flashes?

Most women experience hot flashes during perimenopause (the time leading up to menopause), and as many as 75 percent of premenopausal women in the United States, have experienced them, according to The North American Menopause Society. Although some hot flashes are tolerable, others can become irritating; and depending on the woman, they can increase over time.

“Most women will experience hot flashes for six months to two years,” explains Joy Leong MD, obstetrician/gynecologist. “Some people never have a single episode. Still others may experience occasional hot flashes for five or more years. Women who have their ovaries surgically removed may experience sudden-onset menopausal symptoms and often suffer severe hot flashes.”

How Can I Prevent Hot Flashes?

There’s nothing that can be done to avoid hot flashes during menopause, but there are a few triggers you can avoid that can stimulate or worsen hot flashes. Common stimulants include:

  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Spicy food and condiments
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Excessive heat
  • Tight-fitting clothes

How Can I Manage Hot Flashes?

According to WebMD, some women are able to work through the hot flashes with no treatments. For many, these tips may help:

  • Keep cool. Wash cloths soaked in ice cold water can be placed on neck and face at night or during the day. Try fans during the day. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing with breathable fibers, such as linen or cotton.
  • Slow breathing. Similar to breathing practiced during yoga exercises, try deep, slow abdominal breathing. Slowly inhale while you count to five; exhale out as you count to seven.
  • Exercise. Try walking, swimming or some form of cardiovascular exercise.
  • Medication. There are a number of therapies available to treat hot flashes nowadays.

Each patient is an individual, and every case is different. We recommend talking to your physician to work on a plan that is best for you. If you are looking for a doctor, we can help. For more information, go to https://www.PIHHealth.org/find-a-doctor/

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.