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What Do Hot Flashes Really Feel Like?


We might not be happy about it, but we all know it’s coming for us: menopause. The dreaded “change” can’t be avoided, but knowing what to expect when it finally happens can help make the whole thing much less painful and annoying — especially when it comes to battling horrible hot flashes.

Everyone has felt overheated now and then, but what makes menopausal hot flashes different? How do you really know it’s your hormones causing the heatwave and not something else? Well, if you’re a woman in her mid-40’s or older, haven’t had your period in over a year, and also haven’t exerted yourself in any way before feeling the sudden change in body temperature, chances are high it’s a hot flash. 

What do hot flashes feel like?

According to the Mayo Clinic, menopausal hot flashes are usually more intense around the face, neck, and chest areas. You might notice your skin reddening and the oh-so-fun flops of sweat clinging to your body. That sweat can also cause you to get chills after the hot flashes have passed. Another delightful symptom: rapid heartbeat. 

While they’re happening, hot flashes can last anywhere between 30 seconds and 10 minutes, if not longer. Overall, women typically endure this extreme heat that pops up without warning for about seven years, though some experience them for more than 10 years. MedicalNewsToday points out how these flashes can cause anxiety and stress, especially if you’re in a public space when they strike. Whether you’re already in the middle of menopause or preparing for its inevitable arrival, you can rest assured there is some help out there like these holistic ayurvedic tips that will help tame hot flashes and other symptoms (including anxiety). 

Medical experts aren’t exactly sure what causes hot flashes, but there’s no denying they’re connected to the hormonal changes of menopause. On the other hand, some lucky women are able to go through the entire change of life without having any accelerated body temperature whatsoever. Again, experts don’t exactly know why some ladies are blessed with a “get out of hot flash jail” card, but let’s try not to curse them too much while going through our own hot spells.

What can cause hot flashes other than menopause?

If you don’t think you’re quite at the right stage of your life for menopause, there could be other factors causing your internal temperature to rise. However, before you rule it out, it is important to note that the change can occur earlier for some women. It’s rare, but the Cleveland Clinic claims premature menopause only occurs in 1 percent of women before the age of 40 and 5 percent of women before 45. Your doctor can perform a simple blood test to confirm whether you’re entering menopause or not. 

Rocky Mountain Women’s Health Center lists non-menopause related issues that might cause hot flashes, including:

  • Thyroid problems
  • Eating spicy foods 
  • Drinking too much caffeine or alcohol
  • Medication side effects
  • Adrenaline rushes from stress
  • Hormone-secreting tumors

Whatever is causing your body to spike its temperature, checking with your doctor is always the best bet. They will not only be able to help you cool down, but make sure you’re getting the right treatment. 

Remember: Menopause doesn’t have to be scary! After all, women are strong enough to tackle whatever life aims at us — even annoying hot flashes.

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