What do you do when you suffer hot flashes? Ask most women and they will agree that the most common and irritable symptom of menopause are hot flashes. Some women refer to it as a “flash” because women report a flushed feeling about the face and neck. Those feeling usually came together with sweats.
Current theory proposes that certain brain chemicals called catecholamines and opiates may mediate hot flashes. It’s now believed that the hypothalamus, one of the glands affected by estradiol withdrawal, somehow releases a trigger substance that results in thermoregulatory instability. The body’s signals get mixed, triggering a warming and sweating sequence, in an effort to stabilize what it perceives as a change in body temperature.
To help you with that situation, here are 7 tips to cope with hot flashes which you might need.
1. Dress in layered clothing, preferably cotton, since natural fibers allow your skin to breathe. Then when you feel a flash coming on, you can simply shed layers to cool off. Since some flashes are followed by chills, it can be helpful to have a sweater to put back on.
2. Limit or eliminate all together substances that may act as triggers: caffeine; alcohol; hot, spicy foods; diet pills; hot tubs; stress.
3. Drink plenty of water. Keeping well hydrated can help modulate your body temperature.
4. Keep a supply of ice water nearby – even at night beside your bed.
5. Use lighter blankets or a fan near your bed to deal with hot flashes at night.
6. Limit your intake of red wine, chocolate, and aged cheeses, which contain a chemical that can affect your body’s thermostat and trigger a hot flash.
7. Make use of other coping behaviors. Psychological or behavioral coping techniques are getting more attention from the scientific community. For example, a small study conducted by a professor of psychiatry, Robert R. Freedman, Ph.D., at the Lafayette Clinic and Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit found that regular, practiced breathing reduced hot flashes by 50 percent in the study’s 33 participants.
Other self-help behavioral methods include practicing self-acceptance (remind yourself, out loud if necessary, that this is a temporary symptom of menopause and perfectly normal), tracking the emotions and situations that precede a flash (thus putting some degree of self-control back into the equation), and trying to keep a sense of humor (share funny moments with friends who are also going through the transition).
Alicia Simpson is a mother and housewife who experience menopause. Her new guide book: “Menopause without Stress” is to tell women that menopause is part of life you cannot avoid.