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, but if we’re being correct then Vasomotor symptoms – however you describe them they have different intensities, last for different lengths of time and have different accompanying symptoms, 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 causing your body to overheat, this is all down to fluctuating hormones, the main culprit being oestrogen ! The result is either the feeling of a mild glow or you could end up literally dripping wet – highly embarrassing, uncomfortable and inconvenient not to mention the other accompanying side effects you might be having at the same time ….. headaches, palpitations or 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 manage them yourselves through lifestyle choices, 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, some unique to yourself, that can trigger your hot flushes. The most common ones are caffeine, red wine 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?! The best thing to do is to note down in a diary for a week the foods and drinks that are triggering the worst hot flushes 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.
What else can you do – new research shows that CBT ( cognitive behavioural therapy ) can help reduce the intensity and frequency of hot flushes – it’s not for everyone but if you are interested I can highly recommend the self help book by the psychology professor Myra Hunter and the psychologist Melanie Smith called Managing Hot Flushes and Night Sweats – it’s a self help guide to CBT ( published by Routledge ).
If you’re experiencing headaches remember to rehydrate, 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 breath calmly and steadily, rehydrate and try to relax or the other alternative is to exercise – a great combat to hot flushes and palpitations.
So in summary :-
Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly
Wear natural fibres, especially to bed – cotton or bamboo fabrics
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 and you have really tried addressing lifestyle, diet and exercise – and I mean really had a go – there are medical alternatives. Either find a clinic which specialises in the treatment of menopause or go and see your GP but make sure they are the one in the practice that specialises/ has an interest in womens’ health. After discussing short and long term benefits and risks with them, taking into account your overall health, other medication you might be on…. the list goes on…. then they might recommend trying HRT ( hormone replacement therapy ) which has a high success rate of helping all menopause symptoms especially hot flushes – the key is finding the right HRT for you ( there are absolutely loads of different combinations ) and to try it for at least 3 months .
One absolute no no is to accept a prescription for an antidepressant as a treatment for hot flushes – they have been shown to maybe help with hot flushes but the 2015 NICE guidelines clearly states that they should not be used as a first line treatment.
If you are unable to take HRT for whatever reason – whether past cardiac medical history or having had an oestrogen receptive cancer then there are non hormonal medical alternatives that you can be prescribed. I’m not going to start listing them as each person requires something different dependent upon their medical history past and present, the medication they are currently on, and their general health, but well worth going to see a specialist .
Other natural alternatives :-
Alternatives out there include the herbs black cohosh or sage and isoflavones but I have to point out that there are so many different preparations out there the choice is quite confusing – always check the contents label and use a respected company and look for the THR ( Traditional herbal medicine ) scheme approval logo . Also remember that alternatives can interact with other medicines so always best to consult a trained herbalist (phytotherapist) or your GP, try not to self medicate or try too many different alternatives at once – hard to then decide which one is working !
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 ….