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Hot flashes in menopause: more than just a heat wave

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Are you always hot, even in winter? Do you always wear tank tops, no matter the time of year? Don’t despair! There are solutions to offset the hot flashes that are associated with menopause.

Les bouffées de chaleur à la ménopause

Hot flashes: an irksome symptom

Menopausal women who suffer from hot flashes will tell you that it is the biggest drawback of menopause. They can impact several aspects of your life, from your sleep to your social life. But rest assured: several solutions can be implemented to alleviate hot flashes. Learn to take charge so that menopause doesn’t leave you out in the cold!

Estrogen is a hormone that regulates body temperature. During menopause, the ovaries produce less estrogen; consequently, about three out of four menopausal women suffer from hot flashes. Although this symptom is harmless, it is the main reason why women end up taking medication to get through menopause more easily.

How to recognize hot flashes

  • Hot flashes occur abruptly, especially in the chest, face and neck. They disappear spontaneously.
  • They usually last a few seconds, and sometimes up to several minutes.
  • They are occasionally accompanied by redness, sweating, chills, palpitations and even, although rarely, dizziness.
  • They can also happen at night.

The frequency of hot flashes varies from one woman to another; some can have about 20 a day. No wonder they can affect your mood and quality of life! Hot flashes occur more often in the first years following menopause, and in general, their frequency reduces with time. However, they can persist in some women, which is why it is important to get proper relief.

How to alleviate hot flashes

The first step to relieve hot flashes is to change some of your lifestyle habits. Here are a few tips to help you reduce the frequency of hot flashes and their impact on you:

  • Get fresh. Have an ice-cold beverage, dampen your face with a wet washcloth, use a small fan, take a cool shower, if possible, find an air-conditioned spot and, if you can afford it, install an air conditioner in your home.
  • Watch what you eat. Tea, coffee, alcohol, spicy food and hearty meals all contribute to hot flashes. It is best to avoid them or not succumb to temptation too often.
  • Pick your outfits wisely. The tank top may be your new best friend, but what really matters is choosing clothes that are made of natural fibres (cotton, linen, wool). Avoid tight-fitting clothing that prevents your skin from breathing. Opt for layers instead of wearing warm clothes; this will allow you to remove one or two layers when needed, no matter the place or season.
  • Breathe. According to research, proper breathing techniques help reduce stress levels, which can contribute to lowering your body temperature.
  • Exercise to maintain a health weight. Yoga and low-impact physical activities, such as walking or even swimming, can be quite beneficial.
  • Stop smoking.

How to treat hot flashes

If changing your daily habits is not enough to relieve your symptoms, you can opt for various treatments:

  • Although controversial, the use of hormone therapy (estrogen supplement with or without progesterone) is always an effective option for hot flashes and other symptoms associated with menopause.
  • Some non-hormonal treatments, given by prescription or purchased over the counter, are also available for women who seek relief. However, they may be less effective than estrogen supplements.

No matter the treatment selected, it is important to understand that it may not be suited to all women. For instance, hormone therapy is not recommended for women who have had breast cancer or who have a history of blood clots. The best thing is to consult a doctor to make a wise and safe choice. Your pharmacist can also provide you with invaluable advice on the use of medication.

Hot flashes associated with menopause are definitely unpleasant for women who suffer from them. It is reassuring to know, though, that there are several solutions you can try and adopt on a daily basis in order to improve your quality of life. It is possible to alleviate hot flashes, so envision a refreshing future for yourself and don’t let them rule your life!

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