Thunder, Lightning and Hot Flashes

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: May 26, 2010

Hot air balloons, hot sauce, hot dogs, hot cinnamon candy, hot tubs, hot flashes- hot diggity! So, what exactly is a hot flash? Well, it really depends who you ask.

The Red Hot Mamas’ definition of a hot flash:
When you don’t have to worry about being too hot, or too cold, because you know that in a flash it will change.
The technical definition of a hot flash:
A sudden sensation of heat centered on the face and upper chest and may be accompanied with profuse sweating, palpitations, chills and shivering; caused by rapid dilation of capillaries and associated with a hormone imbalance.
Slow hot flashes (also called ember flashes):
Appear as quickly as the standard hot flash but are less intense and last about a half an hour. Women may undergo them year-round rather than primarily in the summer. Ember flashes may linger for years after the more intense hot flashes have passed.
Night sweats:
Hot flashes that occur at night when sleeping

Many people think hot flashes are caused by a lack of or drop in circulation of estrogen in the body. The sudden lowering of estrogen levels also affects serotonin levels that help control many behavioral and physiological functions (i.e., mood, emotions, sleep, appetite). Unstable serotonin levels could cause you to lose your snoozing time.

Your skin temperature can rise as much as seven degrees. On average, it rises between one and four degrees. After the first part of the flash, the skin temperature gradually lowers to normal. Your internal temperature doesn’t change.

Technically, the science behind the hot flash is still under investigation. Regardless, we are still experiencing the thunder and lightning of these pesky palpitations. Don’t worry, it’s already November and cooler weather is on the way.

If you’re one of those lucky people who live in the warm weather all year round, I envy you for many reasons except when I experience hot flashes. Whether you’re one of those beach-dwellers or someone who feels like you’re at the beach even though there is snow outside your window, I have some tips for you:

  • Get moving: moderate exercise (30 minutes per day) decreases the frequency and occurrence of hot flashes.
  • Lose weight: heavier women experience more hot flashes and have a harder time cooling off.
  • Dress in layers: peel them off when you begin to feel warm-don’t take off too much, you don’t want to get arrested for indecent exposure!
  • Quit smoking: long time smokers are more likely to have moderate to severe hot flashes.
  • Chill out in a bath: take 20 minutes out of your day to take a dip in the tub. Make sure the water temperature is slightly cooler than your body temperature.
  • Stay hydrated: drink lots of water (at least 8 glasses a day can reduce the onset of hot flashes). Reach for water instead of carbonated soft-drinks. When you feel a hot flash coming on, have some water ready. Try sleeping with a glass of water near the bed in case of a night-time power surge.
  • Breathing exercises can help your body and mind relax and relieve depression. Focus on peaceful things. Breathing helps increase the circulation of oxygen in the system, stretches muscles and restores neuro-chemicals.
  • Lower the thermostat! Keep your house a little cooler than usual. Don’t lower it to the point your family and/or partner feel like their in Antarctica. Try pointing a fan directly at your bed.
  • If night sweats leave you drenched in sweat, try sleepwear and bedding made of high-tech fabrics designed to wick away moisture which keeps you cool and dry.
  • Avoid hot flash trigger foods such as spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine. Some fruits and veggies are good sources for estrogen and boron including plums, prunes, strawberries, apples, tomatoes, pears, grapes, grapefruit, oranges, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, soybeans and sweet potatoes.

For more tips and tricks for avoiding hot flashes, try finding a Red Hot Mamas program in your area. Or, start your own!