So you’re standing at a festive holiday party in your sassy satin dress when suddenly a hot flash makes you want to dump the punch bowl on your head. You know you’re having a Category 10 hot flash when your face resembles the famous Edward Munch painting of “The Scream.” You’ll think your eyeballs are boiling like dumplings in stew and then you receive the shocking chill that turns your sticky sweat into prickly goose bumps. Cheers! The reason for the internal combustion is that you have an internal thermostat that controls the heat in your body. It’s located in the hypothalamus, which despite confusion is not a large animal that likes a muddy pond, but rather, a part of your brain. During menopause, rapid changes in hormone levels in your blood can cause sudden waves of heat. These hot flashes confuse the hypothalamus and it perceives that your body is too hot. It starts to cool down the body, and blood rushes to the surface of the skin in an attempt to lower your body’s temperature. As a result, you sweat and your face turns red or flushed. Then you experience a sudden chill as your body temperature finally adjusts. The good news is that it’s over quickly, sort of like diarrhea.Hot flashes can last from a few seconds to five minutes. When they attack, the best defense is a good offense. That’s why it’s important to wear removable layers and carry plenty of water for hydration. You also can carry instant cool packs that you crack open and hold to your head and neck. Facial blotting tissues are easy to tuck into your pocket and come in handy as a mini-squeegee. If you’re really desperate, and who isn’t in times of great crisis, just carry a spray bottle with water and a few drops of lavender or lemon oil for discreet, refreshing spritzes.Prescriptions can be used to treat severe hot flashes, however some medications can have unpleasant side effects such as nausea or sexual dysfunction. You’ll have to decide if the menopausal systems are worse than the possible side effects. You could sweat and still have that romantic romp or be cool as a cucumber until you throw up. Decisions, decisions.
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