Hot flashes

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Women experiencing hot flashes during menopause can blame it on falling levels of oestrogen. Here’s how to deal with the condition.


Women in their 40s or sometimes in their early 50s can suffer from a strange and sudden feeling of heat on the face or the upper half of the body accompanied by rapid heartbeat and sweating followed by weakness at the end of the ordeal.

In common parlance these are termed hot flashes and occur in probably 85 percent of women during menopause. Often it is due to hormonal changes rather than heart ailment because the same hormones, until this period, have given women enough immunity against most cardiovascular diseases. It is not a debilitating symptom but a woman would feel more confident when she is better informed and knows how to handle the situation better.

A part of the brain’s anatomy, hypothalamus, has an effect on a woman’s appetite, sleep cycles and sex hormones apart from maintaining body temperature. In this phase of life when the oestrogen that builds up momentum during a menstrual cycle is making its absence felt, it somehow manages to confuse the thermostat of the body i.e. the hypothalamus into thinking that the body’s temperature is more than the normal value for the metabolism to function ideally. The hypothalamus in turn broadcasts the news to the blood vessels and the nervous system making the heart beat faster and the blood circulate more in the blood vessels so that the perspiration lets the body cool down as soon as possible. When all this happens it makes the woman miserable, whether it is at her workplace or while sleeping at night. Though this unpleasant surprise can last from a few seconds to a few minutes, it does take her an hour to get back to her equilibrium. If the transition from menstruation to menopause happens within a few months, hot flashes can be more severe.

Though the culprit is the falling oestrogen levels it cannot be disputed that there are certain triggers that can precipitate flashes — for instance spicy and foods, sauna, hot showers, caffeine, pills that let go of water from the body, hormones and lastly smoking and alcohol. Apart from hot flashes, in this phase of life a woman has difficulty falling asleep, is more irritable, feels tired easily etc. Loss of libido becomes a concern for her even as she feels the aches and pains more often and she needs to take care of her heart, bone and muscle health than ever before.


Not surprisingly, if the symptoms are mild and infrequent relief can be obtained by sitting in a cool place and sipping a cold drink and more importantly remaining calm. A mild exercise is likely to ward off such symptoms and dressing in cotton and layers will help one to lose the heat further. Avoiding foods one identifies as triggers would help further. Homoeopathic medicine can help get rid of flashes with simple remedies like Glonine where surge of blood is felt more with headache and Amyl nitrate appears with a discomfort in the chest while Sanguinaria helps rid of the flashes occurring with neck pain. While Cimcifuga and Ambra grises help control mood swings, Lachesis reduces the incidence of such episodes.


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