The vast majority of menopausal women experience hot flashes at some point during their transition. They can be difficult to cope with, especially during the summer months. When you're dealing with 80, 90, or even 100-degree days and your blood is surging through your body, it can make you extremely hot, uncomfortable, and panicky. That is why it is of central importance to know which steps to take to minimize unpleasant hot flash episodes. Do your best to avoid these situations, and be fully armed for coolness in case they creep up on you.
The main reason why women suddenly experience hot flashes during menopause is due to a sharp decline in a sex hormone called estrogen. The imbalance disturbs the hypothalamus in the brain, which is in control of body temperature. When it falsely detects a sudden rise in body temperature, it can cause increased blood flow, shallow breathing, and intense heat. For this reason, it is important to get right to the root of the problem with phytoestrogenic herbs. Black cohosh, for example, has been found to significantly reduce hot flash episodes by providing compounds that act like estrogen in the body.
The next step is to eliminate triggers that are known to fuse an episode. Studies have verified that alcohol intake and smoking can trigger hot flashes and put you in a panic, so try to minimize these habits. In addition, individuals who are prone to anxiety tend to have more intense hot flashes. Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing to attain relaxation. Finally, people who are overweight and lead a sedentary lifestyle are often more susceptible to hot flashes. Try incorporating daily swimming into your routine to both stay active and keep cool.
The next step is to wear the right clothing for hot flashes. The trick is to wear breathable fabric that is lightweight and loose-fitting. It is best to wear in easy-to-remove layers as the sun changes its position in the summertime sky. The bottom layer should always be a loose tank top. If you are more worried about the embarrassment of sweat stains, go with dark colors, if you are looking to avoid heat absorption, stick to white. Equally essential is to keep hydrated and always have an ice pack or portable fan on hand.
When a hot flash arrives, you should now feel well-prepared to handle it. Not only have you worked to balance your hormone levels and practiced relaxation - you are armed with things to cool you down. Start by sitting down, taking a big sip of water, taking off a layer, and utilizing your ice pack or fan.
Make sure to keep calm by closing your eyes and breathing slow and deeply. Breathe cool air in deep into your belly for five seconds, and then release heat with control on your exhale. If you are in a stuffy space, step outside.
Dealing with hot flashes comes in these four simple phases. When you know how to balance your hormones, eliminate triggers, gear up, and keep calm, hot flashes will not be nearly as frequent or severe. Instead of enduring the full wrath of those heat episodes, understand that you have the power to minimize the symptoms, even on the hottest days. Read more about how to manage hot flashes efficiently.
- Carmody, J. , Crawford, S. & Churchill, L. (2006). A Pilot Study of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction for Hot Flashes. Menopause, 13(5), 760-769. Retrieved June 4, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16932242
- Office of Dietary Supplements. (2008). Black Cohosh. Retrieved June 4, 2014, from http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/BlackCohosh-HealthProfessional/
- Office on Women's Health. (2010). Menopause. Retrieved June 4, 2014, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/menopause-basics/index.html
- Schilling, C. et al. (2007). Current Alcohol Use, Hormone Levels, and Hot Flashes in Midlife Women. Fertility and sterility, 87(6), 1483-1486. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2006.11.033
- Sood, R. et al. (2013). Paced Breathing Compared with Usual Breathing for Hot Flashes. Menopause, 20(2), 179-184. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31826934b6
- Whiteman, M.K. et al. (2003). Smoking, Body Mass, and Hot Flashes in Midlife Women. Obstetrics and gynecology, 101(2), 264-272. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12576249