Hot Flushes

Hot flushes are common phenomena in women going through menopause.  Hot flushes are described as a sudden, brief and intense sensation of heat spreading through the body and more intense on the face and neck.  Hot flushes are accompanied by palpitations, sweating, and facial flushing.  Severity, duration and interval of hot flushes depend on person to person as some women may not find hot flushes too intrusive while others can find them very uncomfortable.  The onset is usually a few years before menopause and a few years after.

What are the Causes?

Women go through a lot of hormonal changes when they are approaching menopause.  These hormonal changes affect the way a body controls temperature.  Hot flushes affect suddenly without warning at any time of the day but can also be caused by,

  • Eating spicy foods
  • Consumption of alcohol or coffee
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Side effect of cancer treatment
  • Overactive thyroid, tuberculosis and diabetes

Hot flushes are benign but if they are accompanied with fatigue, weakness, weight loss, or diarrhea, they should not be ignored.

What are the symptoms?
  • Sudden gush of heat / warmth of the face and whole body
  • Sudden sweating of palms and feet
What tests will be required for diagnosis?

You don’t need any special test to diagnose hot flushes.

Treatments

Many women learn to cope with hot flushes; however, if they are too bothersome then it is best to seek medical advice.  There is no dedicated medication or procedure for hot flushes but hormone replacement therapy is very effective in getting rid of hot flushes.  However, hormone replacement therapy comes with its own risks, so a doctor should be consulted before starting them.  Some antidepressants can get rid of hot flushes.

Tips for reducing hot flushes

Since prevention is better than cure, the below mentioned measures can reduce the instances of hot flushes

  • Reduction in caffeine and alcohol intake.
  • Stopping smoking.
  • Intake of cold water or iced drinks.
  • Any measures that can keep your body temperature at the lower end of normal.