Women have shared their experiences with the symptoms of menopause for centuries and in particular, the discomfort of hot flashes. As ladies approach this stage of life, and begin to experience the symptoms, there is a tendency to reflect upon the horrific stories that they've heard about hot flashes. A common question is how long do hot flashes last? Knowing what to expect brings a level of comfort and helps women to prepare on a psychological level, and if needed, with treatment to help lessen the effects of hot flashes.
Duration and Intensity of Hot Flashes
The duration and intensity of hot flashes occurs in a wide range depending upon the individual. Some may experience mild sensations that occur occasionally or sporadically, and others may experience more frequent and severe episodes. In the short term, hot flashes can last from just a few seconds to a few minutes on average. In rare cases, they can last up to ten minutes, however; this is less common.
Most women experience hot flashes from the onset of menopause until approximately a year after the last menses, which signifies the completion of menopause. Again, this is a generalization and while hot flashes may be severe in duration and intensity, they may also be mild and infrequent.
Other Symptoms that Frequently Accompany Hot Flashes
Many women who awaken in the middle of the night with hot flashes also report having night sweats and some experience nausea, dizziness, fatigue, anxiety and panic attacks. The hormonal imbalance within the body is the chief culprit, however; anxiety about the discomfort of hot flashes can be an emotional factor which brings on the panic attacks. Frequent disruptions in sleep patterns due to night sweats can also cause a chain reaction within the body resulting in fatigue from lack of sleep, irritability and difficulty in concentration and focus.
How to Lessen the Intensity and Duration of Hot Flashes
There are several ways to help control the discomfort of hot flashes. Controlling your diet by avoiding things that can trigger hot flashes is a good place to start. Eating foods that are rich in phytoestrogens, a compound similar to estrogen may help. This includes flax seeds, wild yams and soy products. Avoiding nicotine, caffeine, excessive amounts of sugars and fats has been found to be helpful. Additionally, vitamin supplements, particularly B complex vitamins and calcium are also recommended. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, staying hydrated and getting adequate exercise also helps to keep the endocrine system functioning properly.
In severe cases, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be prescribed by your physician to trick the body into responding as though estrogen and progestin are still being produced. If this is not a viable solution, natural supplements containing phytoestrogens may be taken to ease hot flashes. There are a wide variety available at your local health food store and online. A word of caution when using menopause supplements though, make sure to read the labels and use the products that contain ingredients that are designed to meet your needs, and avoid those with extra fillers that may be unsafe.
Hot flashes are a normal part of the process of menopause. They are generally short in duration and range in frequency and intensity. If this symptom becomes severe or problematic, there are remedies available to help alleviate their severity. Although the long term duration is usually up to a year after menopause is reached, everyone is different and it's difficult to predict how long hot flashes will persist, but there is comfort in knowing that they are controllable. Do not hesitate to ask your physician for an individual treatment plan that best meets your needs.
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