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8
Hot Flashes

Bad Timing?

Hot flashes can last up to five minutes. Some women have more than 10 per day [source: Harvard Women's Health Watch].

Hot flashes, hot flushes, vasomotor symptoms -- call them what you will (this writer prefers "power surges"), they're never convenient.

The sudden blaze of heat that can leave you soaking with your own sweat is the result of your hormones confusing the temperature regulator in your brain. The hypothalamus misreads the body's signals and puts its cool-down system in high gear. Your skin gets hot so the body's core temperature can return to "normal," and perspiration pours out to help regulate the heat.

Just about any woman approaching menopause can sympathize -- or at least 85 percent of them [source: BreastCancer.org].

The only place where any of us want to be caught sweating profusely is the gym. At the office, coffee shop or on a date, pit stains feel a bit uncouth. There are plenty of tips from other women about triggers and how to dress (hint: Avoid silk), but there are also some medical answers to the problem if your symptoms are severe. Hormone replacement therapy is an option, as are certain antidepressants, particularly Effexor. A soy-rich diet and black cohosh may help, too, if you're looking for natural remedies [source: Carroll].

If hot flashes have you frustrated, the next symptom will sound familiar.

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