Fact: Many women dread menopause. It’s not just an age or number issue. Menopause could lead to many unwanted symptoms such as a decrease in libido, vaginal dryness, weight gain, mood swings, depression and acne, among many others. Blame it on the hormones, but that is just how things go in the world of aging.However, there is one thing you need to handle as you enter the menopausal stage – hot flashes. This is one of the most common symptoms women experience as they go near the menopause line. In fact, an approximately 50 percent of perimenopausal women, and up to 85 percent post-menopausal women will say hello to hot flashes.
If you are one of them, then don’t worry. Here are eight important things you should know about hot flashes, as well as how to bring the cool back in your body.
Understanding Hot Flashes
Also known as hot flushes, these conditions refer to one of the symptoms of menopause. Hot flashes are caused by hormonal fluctuations, thereby messing up with the vascular and motor systems’ normal functioning. This leads to a feeling of intense heat and sweating among others.
Hot flashes happen anytime of the day. It starts one to two years before your last menstrual period and could last up to 15 years, usually after you crossed the menopause line. The symptoms of hot flashes include:
- A sudden or intense feeling of heat, usually in your face, neck, arms and torso.
- An irregular or rapid heartbeat and pulse. This includes heart palpitations.
- Mild to profuse sweating.
Flushing, which is more prominent in light-skinned women.
- Cold chills, which often happens after the hot flashes.
- Sleep disturbances, since estrogen levels are at their lowest at nighttime.
A change in estrogen levels is the most common cause of hot flashes. Low amounts of estrogen directly affects the hypothalamus, or the part of your brain that controls almost everything, including body temperature. However, other factors such as medication, obesity, infection and chronic medical conditions could cause your body to heat up, too.
The good news is there are ways to help you manage and even prevent your hellish heat. Here are tips on how to deal with hot flashes.
1. Watch Out For The Common Triggers
It is easy to blame hormones and menopause for the heat you feel inside your body. Did you know that there are certain activities you do everyday that could worsen your condition? These triggers include:
- Alcohol – It’s more than just the drink’s heating effects. Alcohol disrupts the balance among your sex hormones, which could result in that hellish heat.
- Caffeine – Caffeinated substances such as coffee, hot chocolate, and sodas increases your heart rate and causes your blood vessels to dilate.
- Saunas – Saunas trigger perspiration but saunas and other facilities with hot environments could worsen hot flashes.
- Smoking – Nicotine is a stimulant, with effects similar to the mechanisms that trigger hot flashes. It also affects your body’s ability to breathe deeply and lead to hormonal imbalance.
- Spicy Foods – This type of food warms you up and gets you in the mood for bed. However, eating spicy food, at least during the menopausal period, could trigger an intense flash.
- Stress – It causes your body to speed up the heart rate and tightens your muscles, which could raise your body’s temperature. This could lead to hot flashes.
- Summer – Exposing yourself to hot weather could make you feel even hotter. If you need to be under the sun, make sure to wear comfortable clothes and bring water with you all the time.
2. Choose Your Clothes Wisely
Your clothing could also play an important role in managing your hot flashes. This is why it is important to pay attention to your clothing’s material, since warm, tightly-woven fabrics could worsen your condition.
Stay away from warm, unbreathable fabrics such as silk, wool and synthetics as much as possible. Go for clothing made of cotton, rayon or linen material since these are cooler and allow your skin to breathe. Open collared shirts and sleeveless tops could also be an option instead of going for turtlenecks and long-sleeved tops.
Dressing in layers is also advisable, so you could easily adjust your clothing, depending on how you feel.
3. Drink Lots Of Water
Drinking six to eight glasses of water everyday is important. It cleanses your body, helps get rid of the toxins through urination, and keeps you hydrated, especially during the summer. This also prevents dehydration and heat stroke.
If you are having a series of hot flashes throughout the day, a bottle of cold water on hand could help you manage this condition. Have a glass of water on your bedside table in case you feel sweaty at night. This could lower your body’s temperature and make you feel cooler.
If you are not a fan of plain water, add lemon, orange or cucumber slices in it for added flavor. You can also add mint leaves or berries, too. They comes with tons of health benefits, as well.
4. Chill Out
Water could help regulate your body temperature and get rid of the heat, even temporarily. Aside from this, a cooler temperature inside your home could also help you manage hot flashes.
Start by lowering the temperature and adjusting the thermostat in your home. Consider investing in air conditioning units, floor fans, ceiling fans and even handheld fans.
These devices provide a colder temperature in your home and help alleviate the “I feel so hot” feeling. Opening the freezer and standing close to it could also help relieve the hellish heat.
If you have to be in some place say a meeting or in the office, arrive early. Stay in the coolest place to avoid hot flash triggers. You can also ask permission if they could adjust the temperature and explain the situation.
5. Try Relaxation Techniques
Have you tried doing relaxation techniques, such as Yoga and meditation? It may sound weird but relaxation strategies and hot flashes have a connection. In fact, doing meditation could help you manage the symptoms of hot flushes and menopause, in general.
Relaxation techniques work by keeping your breathing steady. At the same time, they reduce stress, which is among the most common triggers for hot flashes. After all, managing your stress levels could also benefit your health.
Go ahead and enroll in yoga, Pilates, or other activities that provide relaxation.
6. Manage Your Weight
Hormonal imbalances are the most common cause of hot flashes. No pun intended, but weight could also be another reason why you experience this symptom.
The experts are still trying to figure out the connection between obesity and hot flashes. Some theorize that the excess fat traps the heat in the body, which leads to more sweating. Some believe that the blood vessels of women on the heavier side react differently to stress and heat.
Nonetheless, experts found out that a decrease in weight, just 11 pounds to be exact, could improve hot flushes by at least 33 percent. Until the experts find the connection, it won’t hurt to manage your weight and trim down to a healthier number. Your body and health will love it, too.
7. Take Your Vitamins And Minerals Seriously
Here’s another reason why you should love food: there are certain vitamins and minerals that could prevent hot flashes. These are the following:
- Vitamin B – Folic acid in particular could calm down the heat inside your body. Get your B vitamins from soy products, spinach, asparagus, and other legumes.
- Vitamin C – This antioxidant vitamin is also among the vitamins that help you get rid of hellish heat. At the same time, it boosts collagen production to reduce skin dryness. Therefore, make sure to add lots of citrus fruits in your diet.
- Calcium – Did you know that this bone vitamin could alleviate the symptoms of hot flashes? The National Institute of Health recommends 1,000 milligrams of calcium every day.
- Vitamin E – This vitamin is known to address aging. Aside from this, this antioxidant vitamin could be your best friend in combating hot flashes. Add almond butter and sweet potato salad into your diet. Vitamin E supplements could also work, but make sure to ask your doctor for the appropriate dosage.
- Omega-3 – The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, such as swordfish, tuna and salmon, contains polyunsaturated fats, which you can benefit from during hot flash attacks.
8. Make Some Simple Lifestyle Changes
Aside from what was mentioned, there are simple lifestyle changes you can do to manage the hellish heat. They includes:
- Placing a cold pack under or near your pillow
- Putting an ice-cold washcloth around your neck for instant cool relief.
- Avoiding rushing or stressful situations.
- Eating a well-balanced diet.
- Exercising regularly.
- Taking a cold shower before bedtime.
- Checking your medicine cabinet, since cancer and osteoporosis drugs could trigger hot flashes.
- Hormonal replacement therapy to level out the estrogen levels in your body.
Making simple but effective lifestyle changes will help you a lot in managing hot flashes. Try out any of these methods and see what will work for you. Don’t worry. Just like any other symptoms, this too, shall pass.