Ever felt like Mount Vesuvius about to expload...or maybe that's not you and you just have the odd glow?
This is the problem with hot flushes and the management of them – everyone experiences them differently, with us all being unique, no-one really knows what the next person is feeling.
Hot flushes, or if you're in America hot flashes, or the medical term...Vasomotor symptoms. However you describe them, with each individual they can have different intensities and last for different lengths of time, making them such a frustrating and debilitating symptom of the menopause. They disrupt, embarrass and are basically a flipping nusiance!
Without getting too technical — basically in layman terms — the thermostat in your brain which regulates body temperature gets a bit confused when hormones start to fluctuate and decline causing your body to overheat, the main culprit being oestrogen. The result is either the feeling of a mild glow or you could end up literally dripping in sweat – highly embarrassing, uncomfortable and inconvenient not to mention the other accompanying symptoms you might be having at the same time...headaches, palpitations, dizziness...or just a feeling of sheer rage that its happened again and you feel powerless to do anything!
Does any of this sound familiar? Fear not help is at hand...
Ok let's start with non medical solutions — you can help to manage them yourselves through lifestyle choices...like diet and exercise...oh no here she goes again banging on about exercise...but it truly does help (I wont repeat myself but have a look at the two previous blog posts)
Diet wise there will be certain foods & drinks, some unique to yourself, that can trigger your hot flushes. The most common ones are caffeine, alcohol...red wine being a common one and spicey food but you might find it's something else for you…artichokes, ginger nuts (now that would be an awful shame), chocolate …. come on admit it?! One of the easiest and most helpful things to do is to keep a 'hot flush/night sweat' diary for a week (download one for free off the home page) — note down the foods and drinks that are triggering the worst reactions and once you've established the culprits then you have to decide whether your flushes are bad enough to cut them out of your diet or reduce them – hard I know but to be honest worth it in the long run. It can help to give that sense of control back aswell..
What else can you do – research shows that CBT Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help reduce the intensity and frequency of hot flushes – don't get put off by the word therapy — I can highly recommend a book by Myra Hunter and Melanie Smith (specialists within their field) called Managing Hot Flushes and Night Sweats – it's a self help guide to CBT. Learning some simple tools and coping strategies can really help to reduce stress levels which has the knock on effect of reducing the intensity and frequency of those 'hotter' moments. Once again helping to give that sense of control back.
If you're experiencing headaches remember to hydrate. Palpitations can be quite alarming – always get them checked out by your GP to exclude anything else – but again when they occur take 5 mins to slow your breathing down, breathe through any hot flushes or night sweats and try to relax.
So in summary :-
Eat a healthy, nutritious diet and exercise regularly
Stay well hydrated
Keep an eye on the caffeine and alcohol levels
Wear natural fibres, especially to bed – cotton or bamboo fabrics are ideal
Wear loose clothing and thin layers
There is a cooling mist that can help...
OK Medical solutions …....
If you are finding that the hot flushes along with other symptoms you are experiencing are having an effect on the quality of your life plus you have really tried addressing all those lifestyle choices...diet and exercise – and I mean really had a go — there are medical alternatives.
Find out who is the most ideal person to see in your general practice for women's health and make an appointment. Be prepared, take along with you as much information about your symptoms as possible — jot it down — how often do you forget things when you're at the GPs?! It really helps them the more information you can give them.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is definitely an option to consider as long as there are no medical reasons why you can't take it. Unfortunately due to sensationalistic headlines through the media many people are unnecessarily scared of taking HRT. If you want to read up about it before going to your appointment go onto the Womens Health Concernwebsite which is the patient arm of the British Menopause Society — there are lots of fabulous fact sheets on there and you can trust them to be accurate, up to date and evidence based.
If after discussing the benefits and risks with your GP or practice nurse about HRT you have decided to go down a non-hormonal route of medication then there are a several alternatives that can be prescribed and tried.
Alternatives: Supplements and herbal remedies:
There are well known herbs and supplements on the market which can help with hot flushes and night sweats.
It is important to understand that these are treated as food supplements so are not subjected to the strict regulations as pharmaceutical medications. They can interact with other medication you might be on and you could also experience side effects.
When considering herbs always check the contents label and look for the THR (Traditional herbal registration) logo. I would always advise not self medicating, plus it can become an expensive route...by choice I would advise having an appointment with a trained herbalist who will know what will interact with anything you might be taking and also what will most likely work the best for you.
Isoflavones are one of the most common phytoestrogens – this is another topic for another blog post another time otherwise you are all going to nod off and this post will become too long – I think it has already! They can be found in your diet – peas, beans, cereals, seeds, soya the list goes on or can be taken as a supplement – Promensil ( based on red clover isoflavones ) is a good one to recommend – over 15 years experience and advantage of clinical research.
Hope that helps a bit…that the heat has somewhat diminished and please remember we all experience these symptoms in very different ways and to differing degrees so what might work for you might not work for another.
Good luck and as ever if you would like to get in touch or would like to organise a workshop please email. Please pass on our blog details to anyone who you think might be interested thank you .
Included in the next blog post ….. bioidenticals …. yes or no ….
Any information is as accurate as possible at time of writing and is for information purposes only. The information and support that Let's Talk Menopause provides is for your own personal use. It is not intended to replace or substitute the judgement of any medical professional you may come in contact with. You should always seek advice from your healthcare professional regarding any medical condition.