Since this week is all about promoting mental health, I think this is a good time to speak on some women’s health issues like my article yesterday on What is PCOS? Today, I want to touch on some of the symptoms of hormonal disorders like the dreaded subject: hot flashes.
What does a hot flash feel like?
That’s a good question. The first hot flash I had was in 2014 when I was on a combination of Cymbalta (mild anti-depressant for pain) along with Celebrex (also for pain). I remember getting a call from my case worker about my weekly check in. We spoke for about ten minutes. I had to provide regular health updates. By the time I hung up the phone, my hand was covered in sweat. I mean, it was dripping. And it was nasty.
One night, the hot flash was so bad – I went outside for a brisk walk in -35 degrees in a t-shirt. That actually felt good and refreshing. Even now when I get them – nothing helps except standing outside in the cold winter weather. Getting a hot flash in summer months is even more disgusting. There’s nothing you can do. Combine that with leg swelling, a red face and matted hair – and it’s just plain ick.
What is a hot flash?
As I mentioned yesterday, a hot flash can feel like a fever or even a mild panic attack. I think every women feels it differently. According to breastcancer.org, a hot flash is a sudden, intense and extremely hot feeling all over your body. But mostly affecting the face, upper body – like arm pits and chest. Some women experience weakness, headaches, anxiety or the feeling of suffocation or chills. This is why hot flashes are so difficult to diagnose.
For me, I knew it was a hot flash on Sunday because it came with severe pain in my ovaries and pelvic region. I knew that stepping outside would be the only thing to make it go away. I took some pain killers and by morning, I was okay again. Luckily, my doctor knows the risks and gave me some Toradol (pain killers) to take home with me. I’m going to savour these and keep them for bad days only.
How are hot flashes treated?
The treatment for a hot flash is going to vary. The key is to find out what is causing the hot flash, as hot flashes are often a symptom of another illness or disease. The main culprit is a hormonal imbalance.
As mentioned yesterday, with PCOS, the body can produce too many androgens which is the male hormone. But some women can have too much testerone or too much estrogen. This is where your doctor will need to conduct some lab tests. Usually a CBD differential, and basic endocrine function tests.
Remember, I’m not doctor. I’m literally reading this information from my requisition forms. I’ve come to learn a lot about my body, women’s health and lab tests over the years in my research.
There are a lot of treatments for hot flashes out there that include natural supplements, hormone replacement therapy, and over the counter products. However, I do recommend seeing your doctor or OBGYN to find the source of the hot flashes. Some medications can cause similar side effects.
When in doubt, just step outside, into the middle of winter. Trust me. I went to my appointment yesterday wearing just a sweater and it felt amazing.
The main purpose of my sharing this information is not only to help promote awareness on women’s health, but to also share my experiences. I’m not a coach, but I feel I missed my calling in being able to help others professionally. I’m here just to share my experiences and my own personal research with you.
I have six years of experience working in the health field on the administrative side. During my time in addictions and mental health, I learned a lot about reducing the stigma of mental illness, and during slow periods, I used the information I had available to me, to conduct a lot of research. I’ve kept this to myself. But I think perhaps my purpose at this time in life, is to share that knowledge with you.
Please know that you are not alone in your suffering. There are many great resources out there that can help you. There are tons of blogs, websites, and Facebook groups dedicated to offering support. If you feel you need help, reach out to your local state services.
Foundation of Women’s Health is just one of many great resources. Sadly, many links I had saved have been shut down.
Please subscribe to follow my weight loss and health journey as I struggle with the symptoms of PCOS. I also share great low-carb and healthy recipes.