Summer has already begun, and the heat is starting to be felt in most continental United States. Some areas experience an increase in temperatures compatible with desert areas, with an additional component that makes it even worse, the high humidity.
For women who have begun to notice hot flashes, the situation becomes unbearable with the sensation of excessive heat. I have not suffered from those hot flashes for some time but believe me, I know exactly how it feels.
Today, while walking with a colleague of mine for lunch, she commented on struggling with hot flashes, which the summer had exacerbated. So we had a nice lunch, and I took the opportunity to share some experiences and tricks that helped me feel better and probably eliminate them forever. So I thought it´ll be a good idea to share these on my blog.
Here we go!
What about Hot flashes?
Hot flashes and night sweats are among the most annoying aspects of perimenopause and menopause. You may feel besieged, never sure when the next one will arrive, bathing three times a day, and still feel like you’ve turned into an oven. Fortunately, some solutions are very effective based on evidence and testimonials from other women.
Hot flashes are the most common symptom during perimenopause and menopause. They affect as many as 60% to 80% of women, but they may be more intense or last longer for some women.
The hot feeling emanates from within and usually begins in the upper chest and face and then spreads throughout your body. A hot flash lasts two to four minutes and occurs anywhere from once a day to once an hour. The heat may be so intense that you sweat but then feel chilled once the hot flash subsides. Some women feel heart palpitations or anxiety during a hot flash.
Hot flashes that occur while you are asleep are known as night sweats. You may wake up covered in sweat. Typically, this can happen at least once a night and sometimes more often. Not only do night sweats interrupt sleep, but the lost sleep can also make it difficult to concentrate the next day. Night sweats and the resulting sleep disruptions also affect your mood.
Hot flashes and night sweats usually continue for a median of seven to 10 years.
That means about half of women have them for a longer time and half for a shorter time.
Surprisingly, although hot flashes are common, researchers don’t know what causes them. The fluctuation of estrogen levels must play a role, but it is not the only trigger.
Start with your wardrobe. Wear lightweight, loosely woven clothing designed to “wick away” moisture, such as polyester and nylon sportswear.
Dress in layers so that you can shed a jacket or sweater if you have a hot flash.
Try to keep your home as cool as possible, especially your bedroom at night. Use light sheets and blankets instead of flannel sheets and heavy bedding. If you notice particular triggers, such as hot drinks or spicy foods, avoid consuming them.
It can also be a great time to re-commit to healthy habits. If you smoke, here’s one more reason to cut back or quit: The more cigarettes you smoke, the more severe your hot flashes are likely to be. Also, if you are overweight or obese, you may have more frequent hot flashes. And try to find ways to reduce anxiety and stress. A study of white and African American women found that those with the highest anxiety levels reported five times as hot flashes than those with the lowest anxiety levels.
Several small studies suggest that deep breathing, the kind in which you breathe from the abdomen rather than the chest, will help relieve anxiety and reduce the frequency of hot flashes. In addition, exercise is a great way to try to reduce weight and lower stress levels. It helps reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes and has many other benefits as you enter perimenopause.
Work with your gynecologist to determine, if needed, and the best type of hormone therapy.
Personally, not a fan of hormone therapy, but in many cases, it is unavoidable. Many options exist today. Supplemental estrogen is available as a skin patch, a pill, or a vaginal suppository or ring. (A lower-dose estrogen ring is also available to treat vaginal dryness.) In addition, some products come as creams or sprays that you can apply directly to the skin.
Hormone therapy has various risks, so be sure to talk with your gynecologist and consider your complete medical history.
Be mindful, observe and let go.
As difficult as it may seem, if you train your mind to deal with hot flashes, maybe that’s the most effective solution you can find. Being able to appreciate my sensations from an observer perspective helped me a lot. Sure, it’s not so easy to disassociate yourself from the effect. But our mind can do it when we train in mindfulness.