Hot Flushes and Night Sweats
What are Hot Flushes and Night Sweats?
Hot flushes refer to the gush of warmth that appears suddenly and spontaneously. Beginning from the face and the chest, it rapidly spreads to the other body parts in the form of waves. Hot flushes at times accompanied by redness of the skin, mild to excessive sweating, and palpitations (fast heartbeat). Hot flushes incidences combined with night sweating cause varying degrees of discomfort and embarrassment for the women.
Hot flushes can last for anywhere between few seconds to few minutes. They may occur at any time of the day or even during the night. Some women have occasional hot flushes, while others may have a few every hour. As many as 75% of the women who are going through menopause experience hot flushes with varying frequency and intensity. Hot flushes usually start a few months before the periods stop (Menopause) and end few months after menopause. In some women it can last for more than a year.
Sometimes, these have a negative impact on the quality of their life.
Why do women get hot flushes and night sweats?
Hot flushes occur due to hormonal changes in the body of the woman nearing menopause, mainly due to decreased levels of estrogen. Hot flushes are triggered when the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls the body temperature, produces chemical messengers that induce hot flushes.
Hot flushes occur without any warnings and can be triggered by:
4. Spicy food
6. Cancer treatment therapies (Chemotherapy)
7. Overactive thyroid (Hyperthyroidism)
How do we diagnose hot flushes?
No tests are needed to diagnose hot flushes. Medical history from the patient will confirm the diagnosis. However, reasons behind can be confirmed with blood tests, especially for menopause and thyroid issue.
The frequency and intensity of hot flushes can be controlled by improving the lifestyle. Following is a list of the things that a woman can do to experience improvement:
1. Stop smoking
2. Reduce alcohol intake
3. Minimise or stop coffee and tea
4. Avoid spicy food
5. Consume iced drinks
6. Frequently spray face with cold water
7. Bathing from cold or lukewarm water instead of hot water
8. Wear light clothing
9. Use fan, cooler or air conditioner
10. Tissues or towel handy to wipe off the sweat
11. If a hot flush coming on, immediate use of a cold gel pack and spray face with cold water
Although hot flushes are harmless, if these are accompanied by weakness, diarrhoea, fatigue, weight loss, etc. then a doctor consultation is necessary. If life style changes aren’t being enough, consult gynaecologist for medication. One of the most effective treatments for hot flushes is hormone replacement therapy HRT which can be given in the form of tablets, implants, and creams. HRT is not for all, it cannot be given to all. If a woman has had cancer that is sensitive to hormones, the doctor may not recommend hormone replacement therapy and instead other prescribed medicines are advised.
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