One of the advantages I have as a speaker is I’m not easily embarrassed. It’s been a trait of mine for a long time that I can take things in my stride. I must admit this was very much put to the test a day or two ago.
I was sitting in Starbucks. Not an unusual event for me. I was accompanied by a rather lovely young lady. We were enjoying a coffee and just chatting away. I noticed after about half an hour that her face was reddening somewhat. I quickly self-analysed our conversation just to ensure nothing that I’d said could have caused her embarrassment. Then suddenly out of nowhere, she stood up, literally threw off her top revealing a lose fitting, low cut flimsy vest top. With the fact that she was blessed with a rather magnificent cleavage, there was no doubts the entire cafes patrons had eyes for her impromptu strip tease. At this time I have no idea where my eyes were, I think I was to much in shock to be looking anywhere.
She then sat down back at our table. Not normally one stuck for words, I admit to being rather short of things to say at this point. After all what do you say to someone obviously so smitten by you, that just listening to me speak causes her to feel the need to strip her clothes of. So there we were in a crowded restaurant, most people still in their coats due to the fact that the rain was coming down in torrents outside, and I’m at a table with a scantily clad lady showing off what god blessed her with. Just before I opened my mouth and thanked her for her performance, she then explained that for the last week or two she had been suffering with severe hot flushes.
So what I mistakenly thought was a hot flash for my enjoyment turned out to be a hot flush due to her suffering.
So as a healthy lifestyle writer I quickly turned my brain to where it should be, and in this case it was to discover ‘What do you do when you suffer hot flushes?’
Here is some information that I’ve gathered to give her a better understanding of what is happening and what she can do to both prevent and ease the symptoms.
What are the symptoms of a hot flush?
Warmth and/or redness on the skin of your face, neck, shoulders, and upper chest may be accompanied or followed by…
- pounding heartbeat
- weakness or a feeling of suffocation
How often do they occur?
For most women, hot flushes are mild and infrequent, but some women have them many times a day or night. Sometimes hot flushes disturb sleep or cause heavy sweating. They can occur as infrequently as once a month or come as frequently as every few minutes. For most women it will probably happen from every few hours to several times a week. This varies from person to person and day to day for the same person.
How long do they last?
A hot flush generally lasts from a few seconds to 5 minutes, but it may last up to a half hour.
What causes hot flushes?
Hot flushes are mostly commonly caused by hormonal changes, but they can also be affected by lifestyle and medications.
A diminished level of estrogen in your body confuses the hypothalamus – which is sometimes referred to as the body’s “thermostat” – and makes it read “too hot.”
The brain then responds to this by sending an alert to the heart, blood vessels, and nervous system to: “Get rid of the heat!” The message is transmitted by the nervous system’s chemical messenger and related compounds. In response, your heart pumps faster, the blood vessels in your skin dilate to circulate more blood to radiate off the heat, and your sweat glands release sweat to cool you off even more.
This is the same heat-releasing mechanism that your body uses to keep you from overheating in the summer. But when the process is triggered by a drop in estrogen, your brain’s confused response creates the hot flush that can make you very uncomfortable. Some women’s skin temperature can rise six degrees Centigrade during a hot flush.
Methods to help deal with hot flushes:
- Dress in layered clothing, preferably cotton, since natural fibers allow your skin to breathe. Then when you feel a flash coming on, you can simply shed layers to cool off. Since some flushes are followed by chills, it can be helpful to have a sweater to put back on.
- Deep breathing – Slow deep breathing may be one of the most effective ‘natural’ treatments for hot flushes. You should slowly breathe in through your nose. With a hand on your stomach right below your ribs, you should first feel your stomach push your hand out, and then your chest should fill. Slowly exhale through your mouth, first letting your lungs empty and then feeling your stomach sink back. You can do this almost anywhere and several times during the day, whenever you feel stressed.
- Limit or eliminate all together substances that may act as triggers: caffeine; chocolate; alcohol; hot, spicy foods; dairy products; diet pills; hot tubs; stress.
- Drink plenty of water. Keeping well hydrated can help modulate your body temperature.
- Keep a supply of ice water nearby – even at night beside your bed.
- Use lighter blankets or a fan near your bed to deal with hot flushes at night.
- Limit your intake of red wine, chocolate, and aged cheeses, which contain a chemical that can affect your body’s thermostat and trigger a hot flush
- Eating more calcium-rich foods, magnesium-rich foods and foods rich in vitamin E — like cold-pressed oils, green leafy vegetables, nuts and almonds, as well as plenty of minerals and fiber-rich foods, like whole grains and fresh vegetables is recommended.
- Almost all edible beans contain two important compounds: genistein and daidzein. They’re best known as being estrogenic, helping to control hot flushes
- Research indicates that soy, a significant element in the traditional Japanese diet, may be useful in preventing hot flushes in women. Edible beans, especially soybeans, contain the compounds genistein and daidzein, which are estrogenic and help control hot flushes..
- The supplementation which seems to be most recommended includes:
- Vitamin E (400 IUs) morning and evening along with Citrus Bioflavonoids (1200 mg).
- Vitamins B5 and B6 are both good for hot flushes and other symptoms. A B-complex vitamin should also be taken to prevent the other B vitamins from becoming imbalanced.
- Borage Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, and Flaxseed Oil are sources of essential fatty acids that help with many of the symptoms of menopause
- Black cohosh (MAY be a phytoestrogen)
- Chasteberry (a phytoestrogen)
- Certain lifestyle changes can also help ease hot flushes. For example, regular exercise can help alleviate some women’s discomfort. Also, it pays to quit smoking
The good news here is to an extent hot flushes are within your control. It may take some diet and lifestyle changes on your part, but you don’t have to suffer through hot flushes and accept them as a “normal” part of life.
To the young lady that inspired me to write this, just know I’ll never forget our coffee meeting. I hope this helps you with dealing with your hot flushes.