Before hitting the menopause, the words ‘hot flush’ conjured up images in my mind of an older woman suddenly sprinting across a room to open the windows while dramatically shedding her clothes and desperately fanning herself with whatever comes to hand. Before I started the menopause, I really did think that it literally only meant an end to periods and perhaps the slight inconvenience of a hot flush. How wrong I was…The menopause is so much more than just hot flushes. There are in fact 34 symptoms in total ranging from anxiety to joint pain to foggy brain to weight gain.
Oddly enough, I have never had a hot flush. But fear not ladies I was not spared. I had 32 of the 34 symptoms including night sweats which I suffered with terribly. I imagine a hot flush must be very similar to night sweats as you can literally feel the heat rising through your body and have this inescapable urge to unclothe and cool down.
What Causes Hot Flushes?
Like night sweats, hot flushes are caused by a fall in estrogen causing the hypothalamus (the region in your brain that controls body temperature) to think that you’re too hot. In response, the hypothalamus tries to cool your body down by opening up blood vessels and sweat glands, causing you to get red and sweat.
My Top Tips
Just go with it
There will be some days where there is nothing you can do but sit and let nature take its course. On those days when hot flushes might be at their worst, try not to overthink it or get upset. Eventually, it will pass and you will be free to carry on with your day. Many women have actually found that it is the stress of knowing that they might have a hot flush rather than the actual hot flush itself that causes them the most anxiety. Having a sense of humour about it also helps so try to keep your head up and a smile on your face.
Watch your diet
It might be obvious, but spicy and very hot foods can make hot flushes worse. Instead, focus on foods that are high in antioxidants, like fruits and vegetables, as these help control inflammatory processes in the body.
Cut out caffeine, smoking, and alcohol
If you suffer from hot flushes regularly like many women do it’s very important to cut down or remove caffeine, smoking, and alcohol from your day-to-day life as they will only worsen your symptoms and make it that much harder to get through the day.
Wear loose layers
Don’t make it hard on yourself! The more loose layers you wear, the easier it is for you to adjust your body temperature. Take back control from your natural thermostat and be flexible in what you wear.
None of us drink enough water. Two thirds of our bodies consist of water and for women the recommended intake is 1.6 litres a day or just under three pints. The more hydrated you are, the better equipped you will be to deal with hot flushes.
Use cooling sprays
If you feel a hot flush coming on, it’s great to keep a cooling spray handy. For those who don’t know, a cooling spray is exactly what it sounds like: a misting spray for your face and body that refreshes and hydrates.