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Menopause FAQ's Hot Flashes


Answers to Your Questions About Hot Flashes

Q: What is the cause of hot flashes?

A: Most women begin to experience hot flashes long before the actual onset of menopause with the peak of hot flashes happening during pre-menopause (also called peri-menopause). This is caused by the hormonal imbalance within the body. During this time, your body will begin to produce less estrogen and progesterone. Your body reacts to the lower levels of hormones in many ways including with the resulting hot flashes.

Lowered amounts of hormones interrupt your internal body temperature regulations. The hypothalamus within the brain reacts by increasing your heart rate, which causes the dilation of blood vessels. This dilation in turn causes the reaction experienced as a hot flash. Some women have been known to experience a rise in temperature during these episodes by as much as six degrees, though intensity is caused by many factors and varies from woman to woman.

Q: How long does a hot flash last?

A: The duration of a hot flash can be anywhere from thirty seconds to ninety minutes or longer with the average being from three to six minutes. Hot flashes can be experienced many times in a day or even feel as though they last the entire day. Some women may experience a short duration of hot flashes for a few days or weeks. Others may endure hot flashes for up to ten years or more.

Try to avoid common triggers such as alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine and spicy foods and avoid tight, restrictive clothing. Try to reduce stress as it can also induce more frequent and severe hot flashes. Hot flashes are also triggered by heat and are much more common and frequent in the summer months.

Q: Help!! How can I stop hot flashes?

A: Hot flashes are often triggered by outside influences. Try to avoid common triggers such as alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine and spicy foods and avoid tight, restrictive clothing. Try to reduce stress as it can also induce more frequent and severe hot flashes. Hot flashes are also triggered by heat and are much more common and frequent in the summer months. Try to stay as cool as possible, especially at night when sleeping, and drink plenty of ice water and other cold fluids. Sometimes a cool bath or shower in the evening, and you should avoid hot tubs and saunas.

A regular exercise program will also help reduce the onset of hot flashes as will a healthy, well-balanced diet. While these tips will not completely eliminate hot flashes, if followed they can help to reduce the intensity, duration and frequency of the hot flashes you experience.

There are also many natural therapies such as natural progesterone and phyto-estrogenic herbs that can help in successfully preventing their occurrence as well. Because many hot flashes take on strength at night, applying progesterone cream at night can be very beneficial.

Q: What are some of the unique ways other women have found to deal with hot flashes?

A: Many women find that daily deep breathing exercises help in the reduction of hot flashes. Take slow, deep breaths in an out at the pace of around six to eight breathing cycles per minute for fifteen minutes. Put aside the time to do this twice a day each morning and each evening. This technique can also prove helpful at the onset of a hot flash. As soon as you feel one coming on, begin the deep breathing exercise and continue for fifteen minutes or until the hot flash has resolved, whichever comes first. Alternative therapies that may also prove useful include daily meditation and acupuncture. (Or if you are like Cybill Shepard, grab a handful of ice cubes and toss them inside your shirt for immediate relief!)

Q: Will natural hormones such as progesterone and herbs help me eliminate hot flashes?

A: Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy can reduce and even end hot flashes. Natural progesterone is made from natural substances and is identical to the natural progesterone hormone your body produces.

Black cohosh, flaxseed, ginseng and primrose oil are also extremely useful in the reduction of hot flashes. Black Cohosh acts as a natural estrogen and has been proven in studies to be highly effective in symptom reduction. Chasteberry and Red Clover are often used in combination with Black Cohosh to combat many of the issues of menopause and perimenopause as well.

©Alternative Medicine Network 2009

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