WHAT ARE HOT FLUSHES?
Women usually describe the flushes as sudden beginning of heat in the face, neck, head or chest, usually spreading in any direction all over the body. Often the face becomes reddened and the woman may sweat profusely, especially on the face, neck and trunk. Some women experience palpitation, dizziness or fainting with a flushing episode.
HOW OFTEN DO THESE FLUSHES OCCUR?
There is considerable individual variation in the frequency of hot flushes, ranging from a few per month to several per hour. Flushing may be episodic in character with quite marked symptoms lasting for several weeks followed by a relatively asymptomatic spell.
HOW LONG DOES A HOT FLUSH LAST?
Again, there is considerable individual variation in the duration of hot flushes, ranging from a few seconds to up to an hour with a mean time of 3-4 minutes.
ARE THEY ALWAYS ASSOCIATED WITH SWEATING?
No. Some of you may rarely get sweating while others may experience profuse sweating. Some women may even complain of sweating without flushing.
ARE THERE ANY ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS INFLUENCING HOT FLUSHES?
Anxiety may sometimes trigger flushes. Most flushes, however, occur without an identifiable cause.
ARE HOT FLUSHES HARMFUL?
No. They are more embarrassing than harmful and this may affect a woman's ability to cope both at work and home due to the avoidance of social contacts. This may result in loss of self-esteem and self-confidence. What actually affects the general well-being is the disturbed sleep pattern.
WHAT CAUSES FLUSHES?
The reduced levels of oestrogens cause flushes
BUT WHY ONLY MENOPAUSAL WOMEN? EVEN MEN AND YOUNG GIRLS HAVE LOW OESTROGEN LEVELS, WHY DON'T THEY GET FLUSHES?
The flushes occur due to withdrawal of estrogen and not due to low estrogen. Priming with oestrogen (or for that matter any substance) is an essential prerequisite for withdrawal effects. In this case an oestrogen milieu has to have been present and then withdrawn before symptoms like flushing occur
ARE THERE ANY OTHER CONDITIONS IN WHICH FLUSHING AND/OR SWEATING OCCURS?
Yes. One of the commonest conditions associated with flushing and sweating is hyperthyroidism but it causes additional symptoms, which should make the true diagnosis obvious. Sweating can form part of a generalized anxiety disorder but the sweating of anxiety often affects other parts of the body such as the palms and soles, the flushing reaction does not occur and by and large it does not occur at night.
HOW TO HANDLE A HOT FLUSH?
Medical treatment usually relies on hormone replacement therapy; a treatment which works by restoring the oestrogen that nature has taken away.