Hot flashes are one of the most notorious symptoms of menopause. Characterized by a sudden flare of heat, along with sweating, increased heart rate and flushed skin, hot flashes can happen suddenly and often out of the blue. For some people, hot flashes are manageable, but for others, they can cause a lot of discomfort and distress. If you’ve been dealing with troublesome hot flashes, you’ll be happy to hear that there are a number of natural remedies for hot flashes that actually work. Take a look and try them out!
What Are Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes are sudden and quick bursts of warmth in the upper body, usually most intensely over the face, neck and chest. Hot flashes often cause sweating and last anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. If you lose too much body heat from a hot flash, you might feel a chill afterwards. Hot flashes typically start with perimenopause or menopause and can end when you’re post-menopausal or last the rest of your life. The length of time they last varies from person to person, and if they last a long period of time, they often become less severe as time goes on.
What Causes Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes are the most common symptom of menopause and are due to hormonal changes in your body. Although the exact cause of hot flashes isn’t fully understood, they’re thought to be the result of changes in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates hormones, sleep cycle, appetite and body temperature.
The drop in estrogen levels during menopause can confuse the hypothalamus and make it think you’re too hot. If the hypothalamus senses that you’re too warm, it tries to cool you down. Blood vessels near the surface of the skin dilate, increasing blood flow to the surface to try to dissipate body heat and your sweat glands release sweat to try to cool you off even more.
There are also certain triggers that tend to set off hot flashes. These include:
- Hot weather and heat
- Spicy foods
- Tight clothing
- Stress and anxiety
- Overactive or under active thyroid
- Chemotherapy or radiation therapy
What Does a Hot Flash Feel Like?
Hot flashes typically feel like a brief, but intense sensation of heat throughout your body. When it happens, you’ll feel like you’re blushing and feel flushed in the face, chest and neck. You’ll also probably break out in a sweat. You may also feel your heart beating faster and red blotches may appear on your skin.
Other symptoms of a hot flash include dizziness, shaking, headaches and feeling like blood is rushing through your body. After the hot flash passes and the sweat evaporates from your body, you may feel chilled and start to shiver.
7 Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes
1. Identify (and Avoid) Your Triggers
Triggers that set off hot flashes differ from person to person. Knowing which specific factors worsen hot flashes for you can allow you to avoid them and deal with them when they occur. You may find it helpful to keep a journal to note down when you get hot flashes and what you were doing. Were you in a warm room? Were you eating or drinking something specific? Write down patterns so you can figure out what triggers you.
2. Drink Lots of Cool Water
Drinking cool water is a great way to keep your internal body temperature low and comfortable. Carry a refillable water bottle with you at all times so you can drink water and keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. Splashing cold water over your face and wrists or having a cold shower when you feel a hot flash coming on can also help lower body temperature even quicker.
3. Practice Relaxation Techniques
Stress can trigger hot flashes as it releases a substance called epinephrine, which increases body temperature and sweating. Relaxation techniques and relaxing activities can help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Think: yoga, meditation, acupuncture, walking, massage and breathing exercises. Try to make some form of relaxation techniques part of your daily routine. Once you find a technique(s) that works best for you, you can go to it when a hot flash starts to take your mind off the discomfort.
4. Eat a Nutritious, Well Balanced Diet
Nutrients, particularly proteins and healthy fats help keep your hormones balanced and promote healthy nerve signalling. A healthy, well-balanced diet can also reduce blood sugar changes that can lead to hot flash symptoms. Focus on foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as cold water fish and ground flaxseeds and get a good dose of fruits and vegetables on the daily.
5. Avoid Processed, Fried and Spicy Foods
Cutting out certain foods from your diet can also be quite beneficial if you’re experiencing hot flashes. Processed sugars and fat tend to heighten your blood pressure, and high blood pressure has been linked to an increase in hot flash symptoms. Limit your intake of baked goods, fast foods, butter and margarine. Spicy and fried foods can also trigger hot flashes, as can caffeine and alcohol, so steer clear of these as much as you can to help manage hot flashes.
6. Eat Soy Based Foods
For many women, soy is one of the top foods to help relieve hot flash symptoms and lower the number of hot flashes they experience. Foods high in soy include tofu, edamame, tempeh and soy-based meat alternatives. Soy is rich in isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen compound, which are thought to have a role in reducing menopause symptoms since they act like estrogen. During menopause, estrogen drops significantly, so eating foods with phytoestrogens can help alleviate symptoms.
7. Keep It Cool
Since heat and high temperatures can trigger hot flashes, do what you can to keep things as cool as possible. Turn down the thermostat, install a fan, turn on the air conditioner, open a window and consider investing in a cooling gel pad to lie on. Wear looser, cotton clothes whenever possible and steer clear of fabrics like spandex, nylon and rayon, which tend to trap body heat.
If you’ve been experiencing hot flashes, try these natural remedies to reduce frequency and symptoms as much as possible.
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