Menopause is not a disease. It does, however, come with physical and mental changes likely to be disturbing. Hot flashes are common in women during menopause. Women going through menopause may also experience other problems like sleep disturbances, mood changes, and reduced quality of life. When you find that your menopause symptoms are worsening and making your life difficult, you can consult with Dr. Pamela Snook – an OB/GYN – to get help. 

When and where do hot flashes begin? 

Also known as vasomotor symptoms, hot flashes can start in perimenopause. Sometimes, they may delay until after you have had your last menstrual period. On average, hot flashes last three to five years, often worsening during the year after the last menstrual period. Some women have hot flashes lasting indefinitely. 

It is believed that hot flashes begin in the part of the brain responsible for controlling body temperature, also known as the hypothalamus. The hot flash is a body’s natural way of cooling itself. 

Signs of hot flashes

Hot flashes are very troubling for the 15 percent of women experiencing its severe form. The outward signs include sweating and reddened or pink skin. These signs indicate that the woman’s estrogen production is going down. A woman may have a feeling of anxiety or a sense of dread. She may also experience heart palpitations. Some women say that they are unsettled and agitated right before having a hot flash. Something to mention here is that women experience hot flashes in different ways – some feel warm, and others say they are burning up. Many women feel chills after a hot flash. Hot flashes occurring during sleep – also referred to as night sweats – often disrupt sleep, leading to fatigue and mood changes. 

Dealing with hot flashes

You can take various steps to help deal with hot flashes. Since there are some things that can trigger hot flashes, you need to identify those triggers. It could be hot beverages, warm air temperatures, spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, stressful situations, or even medications. Avoiding triggers can help alleviate hot flashes. Keep a journal of things you think are setting off hot flashes so that you can avoid them. Deep breathing exercises may also be helpful for some women. Make changes to accommodate temperature changes; for instance, you can sleep with a frozen cold pack under the pillow. 

A technique known as paced respiration is believed to cut the frequency of hot flashes by almost half. This exercise involves taking slow, deep, full breaths. While inhaling and exhaling, you expand and contract the abdomen gently. Perform the activity at a rate of about eight breaths per minute. Use this technique two times a day for about 15 minutes. You can also use this technique if you feel a hot flash coming. 

Visit your OB/GYN for treatment if your hot flashes are overwhelming. An OB/GYN will help with menopause management. He or she will help you protect and maintain your health and wellness as you age. Depending on the severity of the hot flashes and the likely triggers, your doctor will develop an appropriate treatment and management program to help you alleviate the symptoms and improve the quality of your life. 

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