Hot flushes: what are the causes?
Most women going through menopause suffer from hot flushes. However, the sudden sweats don't affect all women with equal frequency, length or intensity. The causes of these unpleasant hot flushes have not been researched in detail. However, experts assume that it’s the increasing lack of oestrogen that causes the body to release more adrenaline. This leads to the hot flushes, which can also occur at night.
Hot flushes, which most women perceive as unpleasant, can occur several times a day and usually pass again after a few minutes.
They are often preceded by a feeling of pressure in the head or general discomfort.
In addition, the heart often starts to beat faster.
The hot flush causes the blood vessels to dilate and increases the blood flow to the outer parts of the body: the woman’s skin reddens, her skin temperature rises and she starts to sweat.
Sometimes the process can then reverse: the sweating causes the woman’s body temperature to drop and she begins to feel cold.
Remedy with the right diet
Menopausal complaints can be alleviated by eating the right foods. The Mediterranean diet is recommended: lots of fruit and vegetables, fresh herbs, good vegetable oils and fish. Combined with regular exercise in the fresh air, this diet makes it easier for women to maintain or reach a normal weight. This is important during the menopause, as being overweight can even promote hot flushes and sweating.
Some studies say that phytoestrogens – which are natural substances with oestrogen-like effects – are good for warding off hot flushes. They are found in foods like soya, flaxseed and berries.
You should avoid spicy foods as they can trigger or intensify hot flushes. It’s better to eat easily digestible meals that are low on spices.
Drinking is essential
Drinking enough water is especially important for women who sweat profusely during the menopause. Cut down on warm drinks, especially coffee and black tea. Chilled thirst quenchers and fruity snacks like watermelon or oranges are a good and healthy alternative.
Hormonal replacement therapy – is it good?
If the symptoms of the menopause severely affect a woman’s life, hormone replacement therapy may be an option. However, the treatment doesn't come without its health risks and must always be discussed with a doctor.
Other helpful tips
- Alternative medicine: acupuncture can also help soothe hot flushes and reduce their intensity and frequency.
- Relaxation: stress or anxiety can cause hot flushes. Learning to consciously relax is important during this transitional stage of your life.
- Wear layers: women suffering from hot flushes should wear several layers of thin tops so that one layer can be taken off when needed. Natural materials such as cotton, silk or linen are breathable and therefore better than synthetic fibres.
- Cool bedroom: a cool temperature in the bedroom helps prevent hot flushes at night. Extensive airing before going to bed, a thin nightdress and a light duvet can also help towards a better night’s sleep.