Most of us associate hot flashes with menopause so most women are surprised when they suddenly start experiencing hot flashes or night sweats as their pregnancy progresses. If you are one of these women don’t panic. It is estimated that anywhere between 50% to 70% of pregnant women experience hot flashes and these episodes are a perfectly normal ‘side effect’ of pregnancy. This article will give you further information as to what triggers these hot flashes, how to handle them and when these hot flashes can be potentially dangerous.
Pregnancy Hot flashes – What are hot flashes?
Symptoms of hot flashes vary from an unusual unquenchable thirst and heavy sweating to the typical intense heat sensations and rising flushing of face, neck and upper body. Hot flashes can be defined as intense heat sensations in the upper parts of the body accompanied by an increased heat rate, heavy sweating and a rising flushing of face, neck, and chest. The duration, frequency and intensity of these hot flashes varies from woman to woman but in general hot flashes last between 30 seconds to 5 minutes.
A detailed study conducted by medical researchers revealed that over 50% of the hot flashes started in the ears, neck, head and scalp. Of this percentage, 28% women experienced hot flashes in the neck or breasts, while the other 24% experienced it below the breasts. The remaining 48% felt hot flashes all over their body. It was also noted that 48% symptoms of hot flashes during pregnancy were rated mild. This means the flash was quick, barely noticeable and did not cause any disturbance. 39% was moderate, which means the flashes were longer lasting and warmer, accompanied by perspiration in certain areas. The remaining 13% experienced severe hot flashes, compelling women to stop whatever they were doing to find a way of cooling down.
Pregnancy Hot flashes – What causes hot flashes?
The predominant reasons for hot flashes during pregnancy are changes in hormone levels and in body temperature
Studies show that estrogen is the main culprit for hot flashes during pregnancy. In simple terms the fluctuating estrogen levels trigger this phenomenon, mainly during the second and third trimester. The body of pregnant women produces high levels of estrogen that continue to increase until the delivery of the baby and is responsible for the development of the fetus. As pregnancy advances and your body produces more estrogen to help the baby develop most women experience the discomforts associated with hot flashes and mood swings.
Another culprit for hot flashes during pregnancy is the constant increase in core body temperature and basal metabolic rate. Experts suggest that hot flashes are caused by a rise in heat in the brain’s regulatory areas that control body temperature.
Pregnancy hot flashes – How to handle pregnancy hot flashes.
While there are several medications that help women manage hot flashes during menopause, it is not possible to use these treatments during pregnancy as these might affect the fetus. For this reason anything from hormone therapy and anti-depressants to herbal remedies and over the counter medications such be avoided during pregnancy. Avoiding spicy food, caffeine, alcohol, smoking and very hot environments should curb the onset of mild hot flashes. Experts also suggest that relaxation techniques and mild exercise like walking or swimming for 30 minutes are a good therapy against hot flashes.
Other things to avoid if you are experiencing these symptoms during pregnancy are hot drinks, hot baths and stress.. Experts advice women to wear loose cotton clothing while sleeping and to stay away from very hot environments. Drinking plenty of cold water, taking cool baths and using hand fans to cool down can also help to curb the intensity of these hot flashes.
Pregnancy hot flashes – When are hot flashes dangerous?
In general hot flashes are a temporary phenomenon that usually lasts for a short period of time until after the baby is born. They should diminish gradually. Hot flashes that come and go are perfectly normal, but it is extremely important to know the difference between hot flashes and fever, since fever can potentially have a very negative effect on pregnancy. If you suspect you have a fever rather than hot flashes, check your temperature as a fever can be a signal of infection which may be dangerous during pregnancy. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience a temperature of more than 100 F.
Priya Johnson Hot flashes during pregnancy Buzzle.com
Linda Bruton Why do I have hot flashes during pregnancy www. pregnancy articles.com
Is it normal to have hot flashes during pregnancy. www. baby centre.com