Not all flashes are hot. Some women experience severe chills following or even without hot flashes. The same physiological mechanisms — vasomotor regulation and thermoregulatory dysfunction — cause both hot flashes and cold chills. Instead of feeling a flood of heat rush through your body, you feel an intense chill. For its duration — which, like a hot flash, is typically 30 seconds to several minutes — there is no escaping it.
When Hot Flashes Turn to Chills
For the woman who experiences raging hot flashes, chills might seem like heaven. But for the woman who has them, chills are no party. It’s just as unpleasant (even if it’s not as obvious to others) to be too cold as it is to be too hot. No matter how warm you try to get, you still feel chilled to the bone. Once the chill passes, your sense of temperature returns to normal.
Because chills and feeling cold also can be symptoms of medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, it’s important to have your doctor check you out before chalking these signs up to menopause. Hypothyroidism requires a different treatment.
Because chills are the same type of thermoregulatory dysfunction as hot flashes, the same medical treatment options can help. Replacing the body’s estrogen seems to restore thermal equilibrium, greatly reducing or even ending the seesaw ride of reactions. For many women, chills accompany hot flashes, so medical treatment covers both. Women who experience only chills may not recognize at first that chills, like hot flashes, are treatable signs of menopause.
The same layering recommendations that are often effective for coping with hot flashes can help with chills. Instead of peeling off clothing, however, you’ll be piling on the layers. Light, natural fabrics are most effective because they warm quickly when they come in contact with your skin. Drinking warm fluids, such as tea, can also help you feel warmer. If your chills happen in tandem with hot flashes, though, be careful about warming too much: Excess heat can trigger hot flashes.
Herbs and other natural remedies that relieve hot flashes generally work well for chills, too. The same cautions and warnings apply. Talk with your doctor before you start taking any natural remedy, just to be sure that it won’t interact with a medication you’re taking or cause other health problems for you. There’s more on natural remedies in site.