Have you been waking up wondering how it got so darn hot and why you are drenched in sweat? It could have been a reaction to a nightmare.
Or it could have been because you don’t have the A/C on in the dead of summer. But if you are a woman in the 40-55-year-old age range, it’s probably hot flashes and night sweats caused by menopause.
Researchers have discovered that up to 85 percent of women have reported hot flashes during menopause. Although the experience is common, the severity and duration of these symptoms can be very different.
Some women have hot flashes and night sweats that are mild. They come and go and are completely manageable. Other women have a more challenging experience with hot flashes and night sweats that are intense and interfere with their quality of life.
Either way, it’s good to know what’s going on and what your options are for treatment and prevention.
What Causes Hot Flashes?
When these hormones shift, it affects other hormones that are responsible for regulating the body’s temperature too.
The imbalance in hormones may cause feelings of sudden warmth, flushing, and excessive sweating. And that equals- hot flashes and night sweats.
Although menopause gets a bad rap, it’s nothing to worry about, and it’s completely manageable. Particularly when it comes to hot flashes and night sweats, according to the National Institute of Ageing, menopause can last for 7-14 years, but that doesn’t mean you will have these particular symptoms the whole time.
If you are too young to be going through perimenopause or menopause or have already gone through it, the cause of your night sweats and hot flashes could be reactions to surgery, chemotherapy, medications, or stress, or it could be a hormone imbalance.
Want to know more about how hot flashes and night sweats work? Read on!
What Happens During a Hot Flash?
A hot flash will come on suddenly and lasts only a few minutes.
Here is how the cycle works:
- The level of hormones in your blood changes.
- The portions of your brain that control body temperature react.
- Your insular cortex, the part of your brain that controls perceptions of heat, pain, cold, and pleasure, is activated.
- Your core body temperature rises.
- Skin temperature rises.
- Your body dilates vessels and moves more blood around so it can get rid of the extra heat. This may cause you to feel anxious, dizzy, or your heart may race.
- The upper third of your body may feel intensely hot.
- Now enter the sweats!
- Your sweat glands kick in to keep you cool.
- Your blood rushes to the skin across your chest, neck, and face.
- And the sweat flows.
- As the blood vessels fully dilate, heat shoots out of your arms, legs, torso, and face.
Pretty cool how the body works, right?
Yes, except it can be extremely uncomfortable and inconvenient, so you probably want to know how to prevent this cycle.
There are plenty of home remedies that you can try before moving on to medication or hormone therapy, but if your symptoms are severe, skip the home remedies and make an appointment with your doctor.
Tips to Cool You Off and Keep You Dry During a Hot Flash
It can take time for many of the following remedies to be effective. It will also take time for you to get into the habit of consistently applying them.
Be compassionate with yourself and allow up to three months of consistent application before deciding whether or not they are working.
1. Know Your Triggers
Note your triggers down, and avoid them. Here are five questions to ask yourself:
- What time was it when the flash occurred?
- How much sleep did you get the night before?
- What did you eat or drink an hour before the flash?
- How much have you exercised today?
- How much stress or anxiety are you under?
A few specific triggers to look for:
- Spicy food
Here is a great example of how to apply your new-found knowledge: If you notice that your symptoms increase after you eat a plate full of spicy Thai food, avoid ordering spicy food.
2. Wear Light-Weight Clothing
Dress in layers that can be removed when a hot flash strikes to help keep you cool.
3. Take Cool Showers
Whenever needed, take a cool shower, especially before bed.
4. Keep Your Room Cool
Close the doors and windows and put on the A/C or fan to keep air circulating.
5. Keep Your Wrists Cool
Lots of blood vessels are in the wrists. Running cold water on them or applying cool compresses can help you cool off quickly.
6. Open Your Windows
Open the windows and let the fresh in.
7. Use a Fan
Keep a fan at your bedside to use when you get hot flashes at night.
8. Maintain a Healthy Weight
People who are overweight or obese tend to experience hot flashes more often.
9. Find Ways to Relax and De-Stress
If you don’t already practice breathing and meditation, start now.
10. Avoid Processed Foods
Eat whole foods with at least five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit each day.
11. Drink a Lot of Water
Not sure how much to drink? The general recommendation is to drink half your body weight in ounces each day, minimum.
12. Boost Your Endorphins
To help alleviate symptoms try boosting your endorphins. Exercise is an excellent way to do this.
We Are Here to Help
Some women learn to manage hot flashes and night sweats and can live an everyday life even when symptoms are present.
Other women, however, find them unmanageable and disturbing. If you are in the latter category and none of these tips are working, it’s time to make the call.
Set up an appointment with us, and we will go over your medical history, run tests, and take the time to uncover the cause of the problem.
Most of the time, it has to do with hormones— if that’s the case for you, then we will create a customized Hormone Replacement Therapy plan just for you to help your life become livable again.