The majority of midlife women are working, which means we get to experience the wonderful sensation of having a hot flash in the office. It's upsetting on many levels. Let's be frank: we live in a youth-obsessed society and having a hot flash instantly marks you as older. You also feel out of control. Once the hot flash starts, you pretty much have to wait until it's over (which isn't that long – only about a minute or two). And there's really nothing you can say to explain why you are suddenly red-faced and sweating because publicly admitting that you are having a hot flash is still pretty much a taboo in most offices.
So what should you do? First, dress in layers so that if you feel a flash coming on, you can remove your jacket or sweater. Try and keep doing whatever you were doing. Chances are the flash is not as noticeable as you think. Don't whine or complain and don't ever use the phrase "Is it hot in here?" To stop flashes, try and keep a diary of what was happening when you felt one coming on. That way, you can pinpoint triggers. Some common ones: red wine, too much caffeine, stress, spicy food.
Finally, keep a hot flash emergency kit in your desk drawer. It should include:
- A package of moist towelettes to clean up if you feel sweaty (use them in the restroom, of course)
- A clean bra and a t-shirt that you can change into if you get really drenched. The t-shirt should be nice enough to look good under a suit jacket.
- A small bottle of toilet water or cologne. This is mostly to make you feel better.
- A plastic bag for carrying sweaty clothes.
For more on hot flashes, click here.