Your face might turn red, looking flushed. Then, you start to sweat. Others may experience a rapid increase in heart rate, or start to feel as if they are about to catch a slight fever. As uncomfortable as it is, the hot flush is almost inevitable during menopause and perimenopause, which is why we teamed up with health writer Sandy Getzky, who shares five simple things that might help you deal with those annoying hot flushes.
It doesn’t matter whether menopause was a natural occurrence or surgically induced through a hysterectomy. It’s that sudden feeling of heat you get without knowing what exactly is causing it. It’s an extremely uncomfortable feeling, and it’s not something you want to experience as you enter your 40’s, or after you undergo surgery.
Women experience the hot flush in different ways. Some have a quick short flush, whilst for others it can be a much longer time; and a lucky few don’t experience them at all. The frequency also differs from person to person. Episodes of hot flushes can also vary in severity from time to time and from person to person.
The hot flush, however, is not always caused by menopause and the subsequent drop in oestrogen production, either naturally or through the surgical removal of the ovaries. Other factors that can cause them include prescription medicines and excess weight. In some circumstances, these factors, however, can exacerbate those that are driven by the menopause. In any case, the symptoms are the same – flushed face, sweating, rapid heart rate, and chills.
If you’re experiencing hot flushes, then you may want to familiarise yourself with night sweats as well. These are hot flushes which take place at night that result in excessive sweating. Although there’s no avoiding the hot flush, there are ways you can help yourself:
Cool yourself down
The easiest way is to hydrate yourself. Drink plenty of ice cold water, and your body’s temperature will drop. Likewise, you should try to move to a colder room to cool down. It’s also a good idea to have an ice pack or a cooling blanket ready. You can use that to instantly cool yourself off when you’re feeling hot. Carry around a fan in your bag just in case you get caught with a hot flush while you’re out during the day.
Modify your diet
Now may be a good time to change your diet. Increasing your intake of phytoestrogen-rich foods is one way of doing so. You might consider eating more soy in your meals. Studies have concluded that the intake of food products such as soybeans significantly reduces the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Tofu and certain types of nuts (such as almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts) are also a good source of fatty acids essential to relieving symptoms of hot flashes. You might also want to incorporate fish oil and ground flaxseed into your diet. You can find a list of some phytoestrogen’s on the website here: Natural alternatives to HRT – dietary supplements
Practise your breathing
Anxiety won’t help you get through an episode. Steady breathing will keep you relaxed if you’re experiencing a hot flush. Studies have shown that women who took deep slow breaths at the rate of about 6 per minute reported fewer instances of hot flushes. Episodes also tend to be less severe than before they started practising paced breathing. The same studies have also shown that you can get better results if you practise these breathing exercises more frequently. Women who did the same reported getting fewer, more bearable hot flushes.
Women who practise yoga and meditation already have a head start in this. You can also try practising these or other relaxation techniques to incorporate them into your lifestyle. That way, it gets easier to pace your breaths.
Dress in layers
Instead of just wearing one layer of heavy clothes, consider layering with several lightweight articles of clothing. This way, you can remove some layers when you get hit with a hot flush. It’s another way preparing yourself to cool down immediately in case you start experiencing hot flashes.
Choose clothes that are made of cotton or similar materials. These are better because they’re breathable. Also, try to stay away from other fabrics in the meantime.
It’s not backed by science, and no studies with conclusive results have proven its effectiveness o far. However, a number of cultures have been known to practice acupuncture to treat hot flashes. Its proponents swear by it claiming acupuncture has had a positive impact on the severity and frequency of their hot flush episodes.
In any case, there’s no harm in trying. If you feel as though you’re running out of options to help with your hot flushes, then simply try setting to one appointment. At the very least, you might have the placebo effect going for you.
At the end of the day, prevention is still the best approach. You can avoid activities or foods that can trigger them. These include caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, and tobacco. If you’re a fan of spicy food, or drink a lot of tea during the day, then you might want to reconsider. Maybe try switching to decaf and trying out non-spicy food you may like.
Now may also be the best time to quit smoking, if you do, or to cut back on your alcohol intake. Your body will thank you for it. Not only do you get to switch to a healthier lifestyle, you can also avoid hot flush triggers on your body. If you’ve just undergone a hysterectomy anyway, you should have been advised by your surgeon to avoid them.
You might also want to wear fewer tight fitting clothes. These do not give your body enough room to breathe and trap more of your body heat. As you know, breathability in your clothes and keeping your temperature down are key to treating hot flushes. This way, even before you get hit with an episode, you’re already less at risk of having severe flushes, and you’re likely to experience them less frequently.
If you’re among the women who have to deal with hot flushes, try these remedies to make your inescapable ordeal easier. Do not make it harder for yourself and the people around you. You can get through your days better and feel lighter overall. And one day, you’ll just realize that you’re over that phase, ready to go back to your normal activities.
Sandy Getzky is a registered Herbalist and member of the American Herbalist’s Guild. She is also the executive coordinating editor at The Global Nail Fungus Organization, a group committed to helping the 100+ million people suffering from finger and toenail fungus.