Hot Flushes or Hot Flashes, as they are known in the US, are one of the more recognisable and probably more embarrassing symptoms of menopause or perimenopause. According to the Mayo Clinic up to 80% of women suffer from hot flushes during their menopause. They can occur at the most inconvenient times and often leave us red in the face for a second time when they happen in front of friends and colleagues. They occur during the night too as night sweats.
Despite the fact that women hope that they will be short lived, unfortunately, these power surges may not stop when you reach menopause and can continue for years if you do not address the issues. Ladies in their seventies have contacted us for help as hot flushes are their only symptom remaining of post menopause.
However, on the positive side there are steps you can take to help reduce or even eradicate the flushing and get your life back to normal again.
So, don’t despair help is at hand.
What are hot flushes?
To give their full medical definition according to the NCBI - Hot Flashes (HFs), defined as transient sensations of heat, sweating, flushing, anxiety, and chills, constitute one of the most common symptoms of menopause among women. The frequency, duration and intensity of hot flushes also vary from one person to another. You could get several a day, or be plagued constantly day and night. They may last from a few seconds to five minutes. (The average is four minutes.) As well as the sudden rush of heat, you could experience a racing heart, dizziness, anxiety and irritability.
The basis of Hot Flushes lies in abnormal hypothalamic thermoregulatory control, which means your body temperature gets out of your control, resulting in abnormal vasodilatory response to minor elevations of core body temperature, which is why you get so hot and sweaty suddenly. All this sounds very complicated until you understand what make them occur in your body.
Why do hot flushes occur?
During the menopause there are two things going on that are different from other times of your life:
Firstly, your nutrient levels take a nosedive. As you get older your levels get in short supply and particularly as you go through perimenopause.
Secondly, your oestrogen levels start to fall around the time of the menopause and perimenopause. When you’re born you’ve got millions of eggs in your ovaries. As you get older the amounts fall, and tail off completely as you head for the menopause. Your brain tries to kick-start your ovaries to produce more oestrogen, so sends a thermal surge through your body causing the hot flush.
What can I do about them?
There has been much written in the media, newspapers, magazine and online about home remedies and how you can help manage hot flushes. Some solutions have been clinically tested and some home remedies appear to work for people but there is no science behind what they are saying. Many women are so desperate for help that they will try any solution to feel better.
One of the home remedies which has been highly endorsed by celebrities is Apple Cider Vinegar.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Megs Menopause, the website run by Meg Matthews in the UK advocates quite strongly for this remedy. It points to the fact that Apple Cider Vinegar has many health benefits - “It’s a natural antioxidant packed with enzymes and ‘friendly’ bacteria, so it flushes out your body’s toxins and helps maintain your body’s natural functions such as your digestive system.”
According to Wellness Digest by taking 2 tablespoons of Organic Apple Cider (it needs to be organic apparently) in a glass of water daily some women find relief to their hot flushes. It will however vary by person and it may take more or less depending on the individual.
Victoria and Jennifer Aniston are also advocates of the merits of Apple Cider Vinegar but there is little scientific evidence to back this up according to an article published in Today in January 2020.
It may help but the lack of clinical endorsement means we do not advocate this solution.
However, there are actions available to everyone which are based on science and have been clinically shown to make a difference. Our advice if you want help is to try these and we know you will see a difference rather than relying on the myths put about by popular press and offered as a quick fix.
Medically researched advice
To eliminate thermal surges here is our advice.
Check your diet. Make sure you’re in good nutritional shape. Increase your intake of soy, which is rich in phytoestrogens - plant chemicals that mimic the action of the body’s natural oestrogen. Good sources include soya milk, tofu and soya flour, linseeds, lentils, chickpeas, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds. Give yourself a good start to the day with Maryon’s Phyto Museli which is high in phytoestrogens – the recipe can be seen at the end of this blog.
Eat little and often. The heat generated by digesting big meals can bring on or aggravate flushing so try three smaller meals and then a mini snack in the morning and afternoon.
Beat stress. Make time to relax every day. Regular relaxation has been shown to reduce flushes by as much as 50% or 60%. Try using the Pzizz app – produced by neuro specialists, neuroacoutsics work with your brain to relax you for a short nap of 20 mins during a busy day. After which you wake up bouncing with energy. It takes a little while to get used to it but it really does work.
Using tested supplements. There are supplements that can help reduce hot flushes including soy isoflavones, red clover, sage leaf extracts and black cohosh. Remember to use those that have been clinically tested. Not all over the counter supplements are the same – quality is important. Also, you need to add a good multivitamin and mineral supplement into your diet – we recommend FEMA 45+ (Gynovite Plus in the US).
Breathe deeply. The moment you feel a flush coming on, stop what you are doing and take several slow, deep, calming breaths.
By making some changes to your environment you can make a difference too.
Layer up. Try wearing several layers of clothes, which are easy to peel off and on as we flush which is then often followed by a chill.
At bedtime keep it light. Use lightweight duvets and bedclothes. Keep a fan next to your bed to cool down at night. And we recommend opting for cotton nightwear and avoid any made from manmade fibre.
Hydrate, hydrate. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and if you feel a flush coming on take some sips of cool water.
Spray it. Keep a spray in your fridge to help cool you down if the going gets hot. Carry some cool wipes in your handbag at all times.
Stub out now. It’s bad for your health but smoking ups the risk of flushing.
Avoid triggers. Steer clear of alcohol, spicy foods, hot drinks and soups. You will work out what affects you personally and then know what to avoid during this transition.
Exercise regularly. Brisk walking, stretching, muscle-strengthening and relaxation exercises can help reduce even severe menopausal symptoms.
You don’t need to suffer from hot flushes (hot flashes) or night sweats. The answers to eradicating hot flushes do not happen overnight but with work will reduce and stop eventually. It takes some perseverance but it will be worth it in the end – just keep the end goal in sight.
Phyto Muesli Recipe
Makes 12 servings
375g (12oz) puffed rice
225g (8oz) cornflakes
100g (4oz) chopped almonds
100g (4oz) pumpkin seeds
100g (4oz) chopped pecans
100g (4oz) sesame seeds
100g (4oz) pine kernels
90g (3oz) organic flaxseeds
140g (5oz) organic raisins
100g (4oz) organic apricots, chopped
Mix all the ingredients together. Store in a sealed container. Serve with soya yoghurt or soya milk and fresh fruit. Note: If you are constipated, sprinkle additional flaxseeds over your morning muesli.
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