Hot flashes or hot flushes are a common pregnancy symptom. In fact, this affects more than 80 percent of pregnant women at some stage of their pregnancy. Some pregnant women, however, start having them as early as several weeks after conception.
This pregnancy symptom can start right away after conception. In fact, some pregnant women identify hot flashes as one of the earliest ones that appear when they are pregnant. However, this symptom is not that common and should not be considered a reliable determinant of a pregnancy. Further tests should be initiated to confirm the pregnancy. You can also look out for other signs of pregnancy like sore breasts, spotting and abdominal cramps.
How Does a Hot Flash Feel Like?
Hot flush is experienced as an intense heat that spreads throughout the upper body for about thirty seconds to five minutes. The heat typically starts in the neck and the head. While this may be a standard description of this pregnancy symptom, the experience may feel different for other pregnant women. For instance, some pregnant women can feel the heat starting on the lower part of their body or that the experience lasts longer or shorter.
It is important to take note that this pregnancy symptom is different from a fever. Unlike a fever, a hot flash will not elevate your body temperature. There are signs that can be associated with a hot flash. These signs include palpitations and too much sweating.
What Causes a Hot Flash during Pregnancy?
The cause of hot flashes during pregnancy is not yet established. However, health care providers have associated this pregnancy symptom with hormones and the brain. During pregnancy, your estrogen levels will drop, resulting to the increase of stress levels. This event will signal the brain to release more norepinephrine and epinephrine into the blood stream. The changes in your hormone levels will result to the feeling of intense heat in the body.
While this symptom may be normal during pregnancy, you have to be cautious. You have to make sure that this symptom does not come with fever, as fever is a sign of another condition. A simple hot flash involves a brief sensation of heat and this does not elevate your temperature. If an elevation in your body temperature occurs, you should consult your health care provider right away. While the specific cause of a hot flash is not determined, this pregnancy symptom can be triggered by different things like eating spicy foods, low blood sugar, hot drinks, alcohol and stress.
Does this Symptom Affect the Unborn Baby?
Despite the strange sensation that this pregnancy symptom produces, a hot flash does not affect your baby. These hot flashes can appear early in a pregnancy and occur throughout the entire duration of the pregnancy. In fact, there are cases that this will be felt even after the baby is born.
How to Deal with Hot Flashes?
When this pregnancy symptom strikes, there are several things that you can do to relieve the symptom. Here are some ways on how you can deal with this pregnancy symptom.
- Stay Cool. The best advice that a health care provider can offer you when it comes to experiencing hot flash is to stay cool. There are various ways on how you can stay cool. For instance, you should always wear loose and comfortable clothing. It is ideal to wear clothes that are made from natural fiber, as they are more breathable compared to those clothes made from synthetic fiber.
- Stay in a Cool Room. Wearing loose clothing is not enough. You should also make sure that the room that you stay in is well ventilated. You make use of an electric fan or an air conditioning unit to keep the breeze coming through.
- Use Light Water Spray. If you feel a hot flash is developing, you can try refreshing your face and skin with cold water. You can make use of a light water spray on your face to keep it refreshed.
- Avoid Crowded and Hot Spaces. When you are constantly experiencing hot flashes while you are pregnant, it is ideal that you consider avoiding crowded and hot spaces like trains and buses.
- Eat Healthy and Frequently. Maintaining your blood sugar levels normal and stable is one way to help prevent a hot flash episode. Experts have determined that low blood sugar can actually exacerbate a hot flash. To keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day, you should consider eating small frequent healthy meals throughout the day.
- Keep Your Stress Levels in Check. Anxiety and stress can exacerbate this pregnancy symptom. Thus, you have to keep your stress levels in check. If you are feeling stressed out, you can do deep breathing exercises or you can learn yoga.
- Keep Yourself Hydrated. You should always keep yourself hydrated, if you want to avoid this symptom. You should bring with a water bottle wherever you go, especially if you are exercising.
- Avoid the Triggers. Since this symptom can be triggered by alcohol, caffeinated drinks and spicy foods. You should try to avoid them. In addition, you should also quit habits like smoking, as this can trigger an unnecessary hot flash.
- Know When to Seek Help. When you have an episode of a hot flash, you should be cautious and take note when to seek for help. You should not be embarrassed to ask for help when you need one.
When Should You Contact Your Health Care Provider?
If you are experiencing hot flashes, you have to take note of several things. While this is a normal pregnancy symptom, you have to watch out for symptoms that accompany this symptom. If you are having a hot flash with an elevated temperature, you should check with your health care provider, as there may be a pregnancy complication that is developing. You should also watch out for elevated blood pressure, spotting, abdominal pain, and blurred vision. If your hot flash occurs with these signs, you should seek medical consult right away.