While some women breeze through menopause without any noticeable signs, most experience at least a few symptoms. Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms, affecting 50% of perimenopausal women and 75-85% of postmenopausal women. However, there are ways to relieve this discomfort.
Tips for Surviving Hot Flashes
There are a number of ways that you can decrease the severity and frequency of your hot flashes.
Think about your clothing and bedding
Simple things like the clothes and sheets you use can make a big difference.
Dress in layers. This way you can easily remove clothing during a hot flash or add layers when chilled, allowing you to regulate your body temperature.
Wear the right fabrics. Synthetic fibers and silk don't do well during hot flashes. Wear clothes that are made of cotton, linen, or rayon.
Wear breathable clothes. Clothing that is restrictive or too tight may trigger a hot flash and prolong it. Wear loose fitting clothes and baggy pajamas to reduce night sweats.
- Use cotton sheets and layer your bedding. The material on your bedding is just as important as your clothes. Use only 100% cotton sheets and have several layers of bedding so you can peel them off when you start to sweat.
There are a variety of things that can trigger hot flashes. Avoiding these can have a significant impact on menopausal symptoms.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Both trigger hot flashes because they artificially cause expansion and contraction of blood vessels.
Don't take hot showers or use saunas. This doesn't mean you have to have a freezing cold shower, but be sensible and make it cooler than usual. Avoid saunas and steam rooms.
Avoid foods that trigger hot flashes. Spicy food can increase body temperature. Instead, use milder seasonings (such as rosemary, thyme, or aromatic herbs) and try to eat foods that are high in estrogen, like soy products, so you can balance your hormones.
Some general daily preparation can go a long way to easing hot flashes.
Prepare for hot flashes at work. Arrive early for important meetings so you can sit next to an open window. It also means you won't be rushed, which can trigger a hot flash episode.
Carry a fan. Buy a hand-held fan and carry it around in your handbag so it's always accessible.
Keep a bottle of water on you at all times. Drinking plenty of water and keeping hydrated is vital, as hot flashes can be shortened by drinking cool water.
Take action to stop hot flashes
There are things you can do to prevent hot flashes from happening.
Exercise regularly. Try to exercise for 30 minutes a day. This will keep your hormones balanced, meaning less chance of hot flashes occurring.
Take time out to relax. Stress is a trigger for menopausal symptoms and can worsen hormonal imbalance. Get a massage, participate in a yoga class, or simply reserve a few peaceful moments every day to read.
Hot flashes can be reduced or even completely avoided if the right action is taken. Be prepared for hot flashes and take action to prevent them in the future. To find out more information about hot flashes treatments, follow this link.
- "Hot flashes ... in January". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2004: 170 (1).
- Miller, Heather and Rose Maria Li, M.D. "Measuring Hot Flashes: Summary of a National Institutes of Health Workshop". Conference report. Mayo Clinic. June 2004: 79.
- Sikon, Andrea and Holly Thacker M.D. "Treatment for Menopausal Hot Flashes". Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. July 2004: 71 (7).