You may be familiar with the idiom, “run hot and cold,” which usually applies to how someone feels or behaves, such as “her feelings for him run hot and cold.” But there are times in a woman’s life, such as perimenopause and menopause when hot and cold flashes run through her body, and they can be quite unexpected and inconvenient.
Tell me about hot flashes
More than 80 percent of women in menopause experience hot flashes, those temporary sensations of heat, flushing, anxiety, sweating, and chills that can last for several seconds to about five minutes or longer. They are sometimes called hot flushes, likely because they typically arise from the chest and face. Night sweats are the nighttime version of hot flashes.
These flashes occur because the changing hormone levels during perimenopause and menopause disrupt the function of the hypothalamus, an area of the brain involved in regulating body temperature, weight, and appetite.
You can skip this part if you don’t want to know the medical explanation. Here goes: Researchers have found that in addition to estrogen deficiency other factors are involved in causing hot flashes. Some of those factors are named calcitonin gene-related peptide, hypothalamic kisspeptin, serotonin, and norepinephrine. However, estrogen is still a major player in this symptom.
What about cold flashes?
A cold flash is a cold, shivery feeling that can occur without warning and last up to a few minutes. Like a hot flash, it can occur as a dysfunction of the hypothalamus. Sometimes cold flashes happen as a hot flash fades away, which may leave you feeling both hot and cold, shivering, or turning pale. Cold flashes are associated with perimenopause and menopause, but they also can occur if you experience panic or anxiety attacks.
What can you do about hot and cold flashes?
Some women turn to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to help tame hot and cold flashes. However, HRT has side effects that depend on which type of HRT you take and your genetic makeup. Side effects can include the risk of stroke, heart attack, and blood clots as well as weight gain, breast tenderness, memory problems, headaches, mood swings, bone thinning, and hair loss, so natural remedies are recommended.
- Stress can be a contributing factor. Practice stress-reducing techniques daily. Whatever works for you: dancing, listening to soothing music, meditation, chanting, yoga, tai chi, deep breathing are some examples.
- Be ready by dressing in layers. You will need more layers for cold flashes and fewer for hot flashes.
- After a hot flash, you may need to change clothes or bedding. Doing so may help stop a cold flash from occurring.
- Keep a sustainable bottle of cold water with you if hot flashes are a problem.
- The consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods can contribute to hot flashes. Keep a diary to determine whether these or other foods and beverages may be triggers.
- For taming hot flashes, consider using the Pycnogenol, which is a French maritime pine bark extract. Take according to package directions.
Do I need a doctor?
In the majority of cases, hot and cold flashes can be managed with natural remedies and lifestyle changes. If they have a negative impact on your daily activities, however, then consult your doctor. If you do decide to see a doctor, bring along notes on when hot and cold flashes occur, what you were doing at the time, foods that may trigger them, your stress levels, and any other symptoms you may be experiencing along with them.
Hot and cold flashes are common among women who are going through perimenopause and menopause. Although they can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, they are generally harmless. If you have concerns, please consult with your physician.