Hot flushes - causes and prevention

Hot flushes are the combination of heat and redness in the face and neck. Hot flashes are the most common symptom experienced in women during premenopause, Peri menopause menopause or after the chemical or surgical removal of the ovaries. 

What is hot flushes

Hot Flushes is a sudden feeling of warmth, usually most intense over the face, neck and chest with profuse sweating. When hot flushes occur in the night, they are referred to as night sweats. After an episode of hot flushes, there is always sweating and a resultant chilled feeling. There could be increase in the rate of heartbeat.
Hot flushes can happen anytime of the day and can persist for as long as seven to ten years in women.
Apart from the fact that they are associated with menopause, they can also be caused by other medical conditions.

Causes of hot flushes

They are caused by change in hormonal levels just before, during and after menopause. Certain studies state that hot flushes are as a result of increased sensitivity of the hypothalamus which is the body’s thermostat to slight or minute changes in body temperature due to decreased levels of oestrogen.
Other causes include:
  • Certain medications side effects
  • Certain cancers
  • Thyroid gland problems

Risk Factors of hot flushes 

  • Race (black women are at the most risk)
  • Smoking
  • Obesity

Symptoms of hot flushes

  • A sudden, overwhelming feeling of heat spanning your face, neck and chest.
  • A flushed, reddened face and neck.
  • Rapid Heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Chilled felling after an episode of hot flush

How to prevent hot flushes 

One cannot totally prevent hot flushes when associated with menopause but avoid triggers that can increase its intensity, frequency and severity such as:
  • Stress
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Smoke or smoky places
  • Tight and heavy clothing
  • Heat/hot places
  • Spicy foods

Home Remedies / lifestyle changes

  • Increase the intake of foods rich in plant oestrogens such as soybean and its products.
  • Use fans in hot conditions.
  • Wear light and loose clothing.
  • Use specially modified pillows when you sleep. They could be those filled with water or other materials.
  • Get involved in exercises and activities such as biking, swimming, walking, dancing, etc.
  • Learn and try deep breathing exercises to help reduce anxiety during any episode of hot flush.

Take with you 

The management of hot flushes will depend on what's causing it. Meanwhile, there are more causes of hot flushes than listed above. 

However, you should be able to manage your symptoms at home with lifestyle changes/home remedies. If your symptoms persist, talk to your healthcare professional.