Hot flashes are synonymous with menopause in women. But that doesn’t mean that women who are not nearing menopause stay safe from the condition. Hot flashes are known to attack women in their late 20s’ or 30s’. In certain very rare cases, they have also known to occur in men above 30 years of age. So if you think you are safe from hot flashes just because you are young, think again!
Hot Flashes and Their Effect on your Body
Many women know very little about hot flashes and what actually happens to their body when they get one. All they know is that they would suffer a burning like sensation all over the body accompanied by intense sweating for a good couple of minutes. But they have little idea of why they actually get a hot flash in the first place. Here’s some information that would shed light on the issue.
Your brain has a region called the Hypothalamus that among other duties has the major responsibility of regulating temperature throughout your body. The hypothalamus would be able to adjudge whether it is too cold or hot outside and would send appropriate signals to the rest of your body (to either gain heat or lose it according to the situation).
Hormonal changes in the body (mainly a decrease in the estrogen levels in the body) can interfere with the hypothalamus’s temperature regulating function. The brain thinks the body is overheating and starts sending signals to the rest of the body to cool off. This would give you the impression of your body physically overheating while in reality it is not. It is your brain tricking your body into thinking that the latter is overheating.
So what happens when these signals are passed from the hypothalamus to the rest of your body? Simple! Your body would start reacting strongly to the signals by increasing the blood circulation, dilating the blood vessels, increasing the heart rate and opening the sweat glands present on the skin surface. The culmination of all these events would give you a feeling of ‘burning inside’ for a couple of minutes. And that is what you (and everyone else) consider to be a ‘hot flash’.
Factors That can Trigger Hot Flashes
Hot flashes can be triggered by a number of factors excluding menopause. Some of the more common factors include anxiety (caused by stress), alcohol consumption, smoking, nicotine and other stimulants, diet pills, caffeinated products, spicy foods and drinks, hot foods and drinks, sugary foods, simple or refined carbohydrates, hot showers, hot weather, hot areas like the bed, terrace, sauna room, hot tub etc., overcrowded rooms, poor air circulation in the room and strenuous activities that can heat up the body.
Helpful Remedies for Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are sudden and make you disoriented within seconds. In addition to knowing how to handle the condition, you need to understand the various ways in which you can prevent frequent attacks.
One of the best ways to handle a hot flash is to sit down immediately and start breathing steadily. If you can’t find a chair, lean on a pillar or post, close your eyes and practice paced breathing. Take in heavy breaths and let them out slowly. This would enable your body and mind to relax until you feel better. The key is to not panic and handle the situation calmly so that you remain I control of your body and mind until the condition passes.
Avoid Hot Flash Triggers
If you are prone to hot flashes, you would need to stay away from factors that trigger the condition in the first place. Maintain a diary and note down each instance when you experience a hot flash. Note down whatever you did right before you started experiencing (to about half an hour ago) the symptoms.
With time, you would be able to identify the potential triggers that cause your body to experience hot flashes. The next step would be to avoid these triggers at all costs. Accordingly, if you experience hot flashes frequently, you may need to let go of a few triggers explained below.
Fabrics that Heat the Body
Fabrics like nylon, polyester, spandex and satin can trap your body heat and contribute to a hot flash. So make sure you wear clothes that are cotton or other fabrics that keep your body cool. Avoid wearing tight clothing as this can also stifle your body and trigger a hot flash. Wear airy clothes that are neither too tight nor too loose.
Avoid Hot Showers
If you are prone to hot flashes, avoid hot showers, hot tubs, saunas and any other similar factors that would increase your body temperature.
People who smoke regularly and more prone to sudden flash attacks than others. Smoking can cause unnecessary body changes that contribute to intense hot flashes. Cutting down on smoking if not letting go the habit completely would be great for the body and mind, and would help get rid of plenty of bodily issues (including hot flashes).
Avoid Alcohol Consumption
It is a known fact that alcohol dehydrates the body. A dehydrated body is more prone to hot flashes. So if you experience hot flashes frequently and happen to be a regular drinker, cut down on your drinking habits.
Avoid Hot and Spicy Foods
Hot and spicy foods can increase your body temperature and trigger hot flashes. In certain cases, even sugary foods can trigger hot flashes. So stay away from hot, spicy and sugary foods for some time until you are able to control the condition and its side effects.
Note what you Eat
In addition to staying away from hot, spicy and sugary foods, opt for certain foods that can cool down your system and provide relief from hot flashes and their symptoms. Some foods that you need to include in your diet for this purpose include fresh foods, whole fruits and vegetables and soy etc. You may also want to balance the hormonal and neurotransmitter levels in your body by eating foods that are rich in proteins, Vitamin E, essential fatty acids, healthy fats and bioflavonoids.
Cold water Showers or Compresses
Splashing your face with cool water can stop a hot flash instantly. You can also apply cold compresses to your underarms, wrists, elbows (inside), groin and the back of your neck at regular intervals to prevent frequent attacks.
Although rigorous exercises can overheat your body and contribute to hot flashes, studies have revealed that moderate amounts of exercise can keep your body active and stress free, and fight off hot flashes effectively in the process. A simple walk or swim every day can help you cope with hot flashes better.
Remain Stress Free
Stress is a huge contributor of hot flashes in individuals. If you experience hot flashes frequently, you would need to de stress your body and mind. Practice deep breathing, join yoga classes or take up a hobby that relaxes your body. You can also smell flowers to feel better as flowers like rose; lavender, jasmine and lemongrass etc. give off sweet scents that soothe the mind when inhaled.
Herbal and Hormonal Therapies that Can Help you Out
If you experience hot flashes due to an imbalance in hormonal levels, you can opt for certain hormone replacement therapies or medications that can balance the hormone levels in your body.
Alternatively, you can also opt for herbal remedies like phytotherapy to get relief from hot flashes. Phytotherapy would focus on improving the hormone related messages sent by the brain to the rest of the body. This in turn would make your mind and body respond better to certain situations where the latter heats up or seems to heat up.