Hot flushes and night sweats are common symptoms of menopause. Eighty percent of menopausal women experience them. Many women feel embarrassed about hot flushes, thinking everyone else can see them perspiring, but it's not usually as obvious to everyone else as it may feel to you.
Why do hot flushes happen?
Why, exactly, hot flushes occur is a matter of debate, but it's thought to be related to the changes in oestrogen levels that happen during the menopause. These affect the hypothalamus, which is responsible for temperature regulation in your body. The hormonal changes trick the brain into thinking you're too hot, so your body responds by trying to cool down. You experience dilating blood vessels, a raised heart-rate, increasing circulation, and perspiration at some of the most inconvenient times! Sound familiar? Don't worry: you're in good company!
Hot flushes can be difficult to avoid completely, but it's possible to reduce their frequency by keeping stress levels to a minimum and avoiding triggers such as caffeine, alcohol, cigarette smoke and spicy foods. Wear light, loose clothing, natural fibres, and try to stay cool. Keep your bedroom airy, use fans if it helps, and breathe deeply for 15 minutes once or twice a day, which might alleviate symptoms.