“How bad can a hot flash be? You’re just a little warm” is something too many men have asked me. Whether you get them on your period, you’re perimenopausal or menopausal, you know that hot flashes feel much worse than being just “a little warm.” They can make you feel dizzy and disoriented. They can make you feel like you need to rip your shirt off even when you know the thermostat is at a perfect 67 degrees. They can be so disabling that you have to lie down and stop what you’re doing for a while. If you’re facing truly debilitating hot flashes, there are medications you can take, but you should also be aware of some of the less intrusive, more sustainable options. Here are smart and low-maintenance ways to take care of hot flashes.
Avoid spicy food
Spicy foods can cause the internal body temperature of those who aren’t even going through menopause to spike. The chemicals present in certain spicy foods, especially chili peppers, triggers the central nervous system and tricks certain receptors in your skin that respond to heat into thinking it’s hot outside.
Take it easy on the alcohol
Alcohol is another item that you can mess with your internal temperature. Alcohol interferes with regular circulation, which is an important part of regulating your body’s temperature. It’s the same reason people can feel faint or dizzy after drinking a lot of alcohol.
Not only can smoking cause more frequent and severe hot flashes, but it can cause early menopause, meaning you could start experiencing dreaded hot flashes even earlier in life. Certain chemicals in cigarettes throw off one’s estrogen levels, which can make hot flashes worse. Even exposure to second-hand smoke can worsen hot flashes.
Get more folic acid
Research has found that taking folic acid on a regular basis could reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Combining folic acid with vitamin E will increase the results. Taking folic acid can increase serotonin activity, which can, in turn, relieve hot flash symptoms.
Add flaxseed to your food
Flaxseed contains plant lignans that are similar to estrogen and can balance your hormones. Sprinkle some on your yogurt or cereal in the morning. Flax seeds can also improve digestion, and a sluggish digestive system can interfere with your body’s temperature-control.
Practice meditative breaths
You’ve probably experienced that when you’re stressed out, you feel warm. You can even feel too hot in freezing weather if you’re really frightened or anxious. Practice yoga or meditation on a regular basis so you can quickly fall into that breathing pattern when a hot flash occurs. This will prevent stress from making the hot flash worse.
Dress in layers
This one is pretty simple but layers are a menopausal woman’s best friend. Always have on a tank top you’d be comfortable wearing solo, beneath your other layers, since you may need to strip down to it. Avoid synthetic fabrics and tight clothes, since these cause excess sweat.
Use progesterone cream
If you don’t want to take supplements or medication you can look into progesterone cream. Some studies suggest this synthetic type of estrogen is actually safer to take than estrogen pills.
Keep a washcloth in the freezer
Keep a washcloth in the freezer at all times. There’s nothing like draping it over your neck during a hot flash. The temperature of your neck and ears dictates a lot of how warm or cold the rest of your body feels, so keeping that cool is critical.
Stay in shape
Excess weight makes hot flashes worse, especially in obese women. Having a lower abdominal circumference, BMI and weight can all improve hot flashes. Losing just ten pounds could greatly reduce the severity, frequency, and duration of hot flashes.
Use evening primrose oil
Not only does this stuff have a soothing smell, but when added to the skin, it creates a cooling sensation which can alleviate hot flashes. Furthermore, evening primrose can regulate estrogen production.
Drink sage tea
Sage has long been touted for its effectiveness in treating hot flashes. Whether you take sage in a capsule form or tea, it can take hot flashes from severe to mild, and even decrease the number you have each week. Sage also has antiperspirant effects, so it can combat some of the unsightly (or smelly) side effects of hot flashes.
Take cold showers/avoid the sauna
If you’re experiencing hot flashes, you’ll have to avoid saunas, steam rooms, hot baths, hot showers, and Jacuzzis. Your body cannot regulate its temperature well enough to face extreme external temperatures. Stick to lukewarm showers and baths.
Try a liver cleanse
A properly working liver is essential to clearing out toxins, and clearing out toxins is a big part of fighting hot flashes. When your liver can’t flush out toxins, those toxins are circulated back into the body and stored in fat cells. These can cause an inflammatory state in the body that can make hot flashes worse. Try a liver cleanse once a year if you’re in menopause.
The physical effects of stress on the body can trigger hot flashes. Menopause and premenopause are good times to get into meditation since these tend to come with emotional and mental changes, as well as physical ones. If you need a reason to distress, just think about your hot flashes.