Hot Flashes: What Can I Do?

Hot flashes are one of the most well-known symptoms of the menopause. Unfortunately, they can be uncomfortable. They can also last for a number of years and affect your daily life. Moreover, if you experience them earlier in life, they will tend to last longer. In this post, we will look at what causes hot flashes, how you can make changes in your daily life to deal with them, and other ways to manage hot flashes that interrupt your daily life. 

What causes hot flashes?

Hot flashes are usually caused by the menopause but not everyone experiences them and those who do can experience them differently. However, they involve a sudden feeling of warmth taking hold of the upper body. It can feel particularly intense on the face and neck and can cause you to sweat profusely. Because of this, you may then feel extremely cold after a hot flash. They can also be particularly disruptive of sleeping patterns.

They usually occur due to a change in hormone levels that happens around the menopause. Indeed, they can happen before, during or after the menopausal transition. Research suggests lower estrogen levels cause increased sensitivity in the body’s thermostat. This increased sensitivity causes the body’s thermostat to try to cool you down quickly if it thinks the body is too warm. If you are a black woman, you are also more likely than women of other races to experience hot flashes. 

What are the symptoms of hot flashes?

As well as the intense feeling of warmth explained above, the menopause can cause a range of other symptoms that are tied up with hot flashes. For example, some women may experience increased irritability. Others may find they feel more anxious or suffer bouts of depression. Headaches and heart palpitations are also experienced by some women. If you experience these issues, you should consult your doctor for additional support managing the symptoms. However, you can still try implementing the lifestyle changes below alongside this.

How to manage hot flashes with lifestyle changes

If hot flashes are interfering with your life day-to-day, then you should talk to your doctor about potential treatments. Before trying any medication to control hot flashes, doctors usually encourage trying lifestyle changes. If possible, these should be kept up for 3 months before trying the medical route. Here, we outline 8 ways to control hot flashes:

  1. Wear multiple layers of clothing

Choose to wear multiple layers of thinner clothing, rather than one thick layer. These layers can then be removed if a hot flash comes on to help control your body’s thermostat.

  1. Reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption

Alcohol and caffeine can increase the risk of hot flashes.

  1. Quit smoking

Smoking has been shown to increase the risk of suffering hot flashes. 

  1. Maintain a healthy BMI

A high BMI (Body Mass Index) has also been shown to increase the risk of suffering hot flashes. This is true of both frequency and severity. 

  1. Keep your environment cooler

Try to keep your surrounding temperature cooler than you might normally. This can be with a fan or lowering the thermostat. If you are on the go, take a handheld fan. 

  1. Carry a water spray

If you feel the onset of a hot flash, spray your face with water to help cool you down. There are also cold gel packs you can buy in pharmacies.

  1. Don’t have a hot bath/shower

You don’t have to take an ice cold shower, but keeping the temperature lukewarm can help prevent hot flashes.

  1. Sleep under layers of sheets

Just as with your clothing, sleeping under multiple layers of sheets rather than one thick duvet gives you more control over your body temperature and thermostat.

Managing hot flashes with natural menopause supplements

Sometimes, lifestyle changes alone are not enough. One of the most effective treatments for people suffering with severe adverse effects of hot flashes is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, there are risks attached to hormonal treatments that may put people off taking a medical approach. For example, if you have had certain types of cancer, have cardiovascular issues, are at risk of blood clots, or are pregnant. 

Fortunately, there are numerous natural menopause supplements that can help people struggling with hot flashes even after making lifestyle changes. However, before taking any supplement, you should speak to your doctor to ensure it is safe and effective. Low doses of anti-depressants and a medicine called clonidine have also been found to be effective for some people. However, these carry the risk of becoming addictive. 

What is the right treatment for me?

Choosing the right treatment will vary from person to person. Whatever you decide, it is important to involve your doctor when choosing suitable supplements, be they natural or medical. Discuss a treatment plan and try to implement as many of the lifestyle changes above for improved control against the worst effects of hot flashes.