Does this sound familiar? You turn off the water from your morning shower and, as you’re about to dry yourself, you’re hit with a sudden but intense heat that causes your already wet body to sweat intensely, especially at the back of your neck. Your face becomes bright red and hot to the touch as does your chest and neck. If you didn’t know better, you’d think you were burning up from the inside out. Relax, take a deep breath. You’re having a hot flash.
For some women, hot flashes are just that – fleeting moments of internal heat that leave them with a moist upper lip. For others, hot flashes can last for several minutes (and in some rare cases, up to an hour) and leave them red-faced and burning, soaked in sweat. Hot flashes can occur at any time, in any place – even after a cool shower. They wake many women from a good night’s sleep and besides being uncomfortable, they can be embarrassing.
What Causes Hot Flashes?
Experts believe that hot flashes are caused by hormonal imbalances due to peri-menopause and menopause. They can also be caused by certain medications. Many experts think that lifestyle, including diet and exercise, affect the incidence and severity of hot flashes. As estrogen diminishes, due to menopause, it affects the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates body temperature, appetite and sleep cycles. Medical experts are not certain as to why the hypothalamus reads this estrogen drop to mean “it’s getting hot in here,” but the body responds to the heat by trying to cool itself off. You start to sweat, your heart pumps faster, your blood vessels dilate – all in an effort to dissipate the heat. Some women’s skin becomes hot to the touch and actually rises in temperature by as much as six degrees.
Statistics indicate that about 75 percent of US women suffer from hot flashes in peri-menopause and in the early years of menopause. Between 20 and 50 percent of women experience hot flashes for many years following menopause. Women who’ve had breast cancer may experience hot flashes more intensely. And certain medications, such as hypertensives, may bring on hot flashes. People who take niacin are told that hot flashes may be a side effect of the supplement and men are not immune to medically-related hot flashes.
Can You Avoid Hot Flashes?
Many women say their hot flashes are exacerbated by stress. Others find that alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods trigger their hot flashes. Still others report that hot showers, saunas, hot weather or hot indoor temperatures increased the incidence of hot flashes. If possible, try to identify your triggers and then do your best to avoid them.
Dress to be Cool
Dress in layers so that, if a hot flash hits, you can peel off your clothing to make yourself more comfortable. Wear lightweight natural fabrics that breathe; synthetics trap body heat. Be wary of wool. It’s simply too hot. Wear looser clothing and avoid high necks and long sleeves. Hot flashes can strike on even the coldest days. Wear a short sleeved tee shirt and layer it with a cute cardigan that you can easily remove.
More Cooling Strategies, Naturally
Sleep in cotton versus synthetic sheets.
Keep your home thermostat low. (The rest of the family can put on a sweater or robe more easily than you can get cool.)
Sip ice water and hold the cool bottle or glass against the pressure points on your wrists and neck when a hot flash hits.
Get more exercise. Experts say that regular physical activity may lessen the severity of hot flashes.
Some women have found that acupuncture helps ease hot flashes and others swear by over-the-counter remedies specifically marketed for menopausal symptoms.
Bring on a coldfront®
There are many products on the market that promise to relieve the heat of hot flashes. But not all of them work. Here’s one that I found does. It’s called coldfront and is an “on-the-go, on demand, personal cooling kit with patented Recool Technology. coldfront is perfect for heat and pain relief wherever you are, whenever you need it, for up to 12 hours.” I received a complimentary coldfront kit from Susie Hadas, inventor of coldfront and CEO of Personally Cool Inc. , stuck it in the freezer overnight and, at the first sign of a hot flash, I reached for one of the frozen “palm packs” to hold, placed the other one behind my neck and experienced … cool. It was a delicious – and immediate – sensation. coldfront practically nipped that impending hot flash in the bud and it certainly made it much more bearable. coldfront comes in a cool-looking, portable case that is reminiscent of the kind used for high-end, designer eyeglasses and contains a large cooling pack and two smaller “palm packs” that remain soft to the touch, even when frozen; an absorbent, quick drying anti-microbial wicking cloth and a cooling core that re-cools the three packs for up to 12 hours without the need to return them to the freezer. Pretty cool, huh? So, let me break it down: You’ve been on the go all day and are about to attend a late afternoon meeting when a hot flash hits. You grab the coldfront that you’d removed from the freezer that morning before you left for work, apply one of the gel packs to your wrist and back of your neck and the hot flash is eased.
Frankly, I think that coldfront has tons of uses that have nothing to do with hot flashes, including keeping me cool during outdoor summer activities, diffusing the pain from a kitchen burn or providing cooling relief from migraines. (Give me a minute and I’ll come up with ten more uses, I bet.) As for hot flashes, coldfront is an elegant, more discreet and certainly less messy way to deal with them than holding ice cubes to your face. Trust me. I’ve tried that.
And if you want to learn more about the product, here’s the link to their homepage: http://www.mycoldfront.com/
Hot flashes are not funny. Not to anyone who’s experiencing them, at least. Hopefully, the above tips will help you manage yours.
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