You might have heard your mothers talking to your aunts about it or even you might be talking about it or experiencing it. Whatever the case may be you must be aware of the word ‘Hot Flushes’. Hot flushes, hot flashes or night sweats, whatever you may call it, you know it as a common side effect of menopause (the time of life when a woman’s menstrual periods stop). What more? You don’t know? Never mind. Read on and you will know all you should, about hot flushes.
What are Hot Flushes?
Sudden feelings of warmth or brief heat sensations which you feel over your entire body, whose intensity is most high over the face, the neck and chest area are hot flushes. They may cause reddening of your face (as if you were blushing) and a lot of sweating due to the heat and warmth you feel.
Why are Hot Flushes Caused?
Hot Flushes are caused by the decline in the estrogen levels and the dilation of blood vessels of the skin in the body of women. According to some researchers, menopause causes a drop in the estrogen level of a woman’s body which affects the area of the brain that regulates body temperature called hypothallamus, thus causing hot flushes.
For How Long does it Happen?
Depending from person to person, hot flushes can happen at any time during the day or night, sometimes a few days in a week, sometimes several times in a day. When they occur at night they can interrupt your sleep and cause night sweats. They last from 45 seconds to 10-12minutes.
Some women become anxious and feel their heart palpitating more than normal. Some also panic. Hot flushes gradually stop with time, as the body becomes adjusts with the low levels of estrogen but in some women they can continue up to five years after menopause.
Does it Happen to Every Woman?
Hot flushes are experienced by most of the women who reach their menopause. At least four out of five women are affected by it.
How do I Feel When Hot Flushes Occur?
You will suddenly start feeling hot and sometimes, start sweating. Some menopausal women experience both types of hot flushes: The standard hot flushes and the slow hot flushes, sometimes called ‘Ember Flashes’. The standard hot flushes come on rapidly and you start feeling extremely hot in just a minute. These Standard hot flushes reach maximum intensity very quickly but last for only a few minutes, fading gradually.
Slow hot flushes or Ember flashes appear as quickly as the standard hot flushes but they are less intense and last for 20-25 minutes to even more than half an hour. Ember flashes tend to linger for many years after the intense hot flashes have passed and do not differentiate between summers or winter i.e. they keep on happening the whole year.
Can they Occur in Non-Menopausal Women?
Yes they can. If hot flushes occur in non-menopausal woman then she might be suffering from some problem in her pituitary gland. It is highly recommended that such women should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Hot flushes occur in women who are surgically menopausal. In such women, these hot flushes are more intense than in menopausal women and last until that woman has reached her natural age of menopause.
What is the Treatment Available for Hot Flushes?
There are a variety of treatments available for hot flushes but usually women do not undergo such treatments. The only treatment which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for hot flushes is the estrogen hormone therapy.