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Hot Flashes & Night Sweats

Surviving Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

Almost 75 percent of American women suffer from hot flashes and night sweats during menopause. Hot flashes are among the most common of symptoms and typically indicate that you’re starting the transition into menopause.

How will you know if you’re having a hot flash?  They aren’t hard to recognize, but can take you by surprise. With little warning, you might feel a sudden rush of heat from your toes to the top of your head, clammy skin and even a little dizziness. While your internal body temperature doesn’t change, the actual temperature of your skin may rise by 1 to 4 degrees.

Hot flashes may only last from 30 seconds to five minutes, but can seem like forever. Eventually, your body will cool itself off and you’ll get back to normal.

Though hot flashes are typically caused by fluctuating estrogen levels, other factors can contribute, as well. Caffeine, spicy foods, and red wine, for example, are potential triggers. For other women, stress and tension can lead to more frequent hot flashes. And smokers are 2.5 times more likely to complain about severe hot flashes than women who have never smoked.

Many women feel that hormone replacement therapy or natural remedies for menopause—such as soy products, black cohosh, ginseng, evening primrose oil, and vitamin E—can help relieve hot flashes. But you may want to start by identifying your individual triggers and changing your diet and lifestyle accordingly.

During the night, our bodies can also experience similar sensations. Night sweats can disrupt your sleep, possibly fueling other menopause symptoms, including mood swings, emotional problems, and memory lapses. While you may ultimately explore HRT or prescriptions for severe night sweats, consider a few simple changes first. Little things, like lowering your thermostat or keeping a glass of water next to your bed, can make a difference.

You may suffer through hot flashes for a year or two leading up to your last period. It’s possible, though, that you might also experience them sporadically throughout menopause. But relief is on the way. Once you enter post menopause, many troubling symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats, will likely disappear.