Hot flashes are one of the most common and irritating symptoms of menopause. Often occurring suddenly, they can stop women in their tracks and be a real burden in day-to-day life, especially at work. By learning about the causes and treatments of hot flashes, women can manage their symptoms, decreasing the severity and frequency of their hot flashes. Read on to find out how to deal with hot flashes.
Diagnosing Hot Flashes
If you are concerned about hot flashes and think that you may be approaching menopause, talk to your doctor and figure out how you can manage your symptoms.
During medical examination, your doctor may evaluate you based on your age, other symptoms you are experiencing, your menstrual periods, and medical history, and prescription medications you might be taking. A blood test measuring levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which rise during menopause, may also be administered.
Hot flashes are typically caused by decreased progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen levels. In addition to hot flashes during menopause, some women may experience vaginal dryness, mood swings, and loss of libido. Hot flashes may also be caused by certain gynecological diseases and some medications.
Common symptoms of hot flashes include:
- A feeling of intense heat in the upper body
- Flushing of the skin (face, neck, and chest)
- Sudden, increased heart rate
- Excessive sweating
- Chills and shivering
Hot flashes in women can also occur at night, which are commonly known as night sweats. They wake women up from their sleep and can lead to difficulty concentrating, irritability, and fatigue. The duration, intensity, and frequency of hot flashes varies from woman to woman. Typically, the faster a woman transitions from having regular menstrual periods to no periods at all, the more intense her hot flashes will be. In the three years prior to menopause, half of women will suffer from hot flashes and about 75% of women will experience hot flashes during menopause.
Tips for Dealing with Hot Flashes
Follow these tips to avoid hot flash episodes:
- Dress in layers
- Avoid hot or spicy foods and alcohol
- Keep your bedroom cool
- Exercise regularly
- Stop smoking
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Use herbal supplements
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