Hot flashes are probably the most frequently noted symptom of perimenopause and menopause among women in the United States and Europe. Studies show that as many as eighty percent of females in America experience hot flashes at some stage during or after their transition to menopause.
The Prevalence of Hot Flashes
Hot flashes will typically last for a period of up to four or five years. The severity of the hot flashes usually peaks in the two years following a woman’s last period, after which, they slowly come to an end. However, about ten percent of women will continue to experience hot flashes for the rest of their lives.
Experiencing Hot Flashes
Hot flashes come on quickly and generally last for about 1 to 5 minutes, although
one-hour episodes are not unusual. Women feel as though a heat wave is moving
over their face, neck, and torso. Hot flashes can be mild or intense. A mild hot flash is experienced as a brief and fleeting feeling of heat, whereas an intense hot flash is accompanied by the sensation of a fire burning from within and spreading outward. The more intense hot flashes cause the skin to flush and the body to perspire excessively. The intense heat and flushing are often accompanied by heart palpitations and wooziness followed by chills and a feeling of cold clamminess. The physical sensations experienced during hot flashes are also commonly accompanied by emotional reactions that can include feelings of stress, anxiety, apprehension and nervousness.
It is not uncommon to feel restless or irritated immediately before hot flashes begin to come on. Additionally, it is not unusual to feel a tingling sensation in the palms or fingertips before or during a hot flash. This sensation may feel like pins and needles or like ants crawling on the skin. Sometimes, heart tremors and tingling hands and fingers may occur even without the sensation of heat or flushing.
How often one might experience hot flashes varies a great deal. The average woman experiences four hot flashes per day while other women endure ten or more hot flashes per day. On the other hand, some women will experience only three or four hot flashes during and entire week. Most women who experience hot flashes during the daytime will also experience some at night.
Living With Hot Flashes
In addition to the physical discomfort caused by hot flashes, they can also make life during this time of transition very difficult by occurring at inopportune moments. Timing can often make the experience of hot flashes far worse than the physical sensation alone. Experiencing hot flashes during a romantic encounter, a presentation, a business meeting or even while driving a car or participating in a sports activity can be quite upsetting. This means that if you are experiencing hot flashes you should try to prepare for these contingencies if you are going to be in these kinds of situations.