A staggering 88% of American women suffering from perimenopause symptoms are more or less tormented by hot flashes . Hot flashes are not life threatening. They just make your life miserable. Suddenly, you’re hot and uncomfortable. You can have a soaker or merely a moist upper lip. Night sweats disrupt your sleep which can cause poor concentration, memory problems, irritability and exhaustion during the day. The frequency, duration, and intensity vary widely from woman to woman and also for individual women during the various stages of menopause.
A hot flash is a sudden, intense version of what the body normally does to cool down when it is overheated: Blood vessels near the skin dilate and you break into a sweat. But why, when a woman is sitting at her desk or driving down Main Street, does her body suddenly think it is overheated? The causes of such thermal chaos are only partly understood. Hot flashes are linked to the fluctuating hormones that cause so many perimenopause symptoms, but other factors can cause your temperature control to go out of whack.
Instead of hormone replacement therapy, look at safer, less drastic measures first because you should always begin with the least aggressive approach to treating your menopausal symptoms, and because living a healthy lifestyle makes sense regardless of what else you do.
Here are some ideas that have helped many women find relief:
- Keep a record of when hot flashes occur and what you were eating or doing, or how you were feeling at the time. Look for your "triggers." Some common triggers are: hot or spicy foods, alcohol, caffeinated drinks, cigarette smoke. Watch out for hot tubs, hot beds, hot rooms, hot weather, and hot showers. Avoid saunas. Sugar and, alas, chocolate were the biggest triggers for me.
- Many women find that stress tops the charts as a trigger. Was that hot flash at work a random hit, or were you feeling under pressure at the time? Was it a full day of pressure without a break? This is the time of life when nature forces you to slow down and take care of yourself or else everything gets worse.
- Paced breathing. Two studies found that slow, deep breathing reduced the frequency of hot flashes by 39 percent and by 44 percent.
- Dress in light layers, so you can peel off one layer after another as you get warmer. Make sure the layer beneath the jacket you wear to work is something you won’t mind showing if you need to take your jacket off during a meeting. Avoid turtlenecks. Don’t wear wool or synthetics, and be wary of silk. That leaves cotton, linen, rayon, and more cotton.
- Try to notice the subtle signs right before a hot flash starts. You can often stop a hot flash or lessen its intensity by drinking cold water or touching something cold like metal or window glass. If you’re home, an ice pack to the back of the neck can be very effective. The trick is to catch it early, before it really gets going.
- Sip ice water to cool down your insides. Be sure to drink enough water to replace the fluids lost by sweating.
- Cooling exercise. Yoga is perfect and can also help balance your endocrine glands, reduce stress, and teach you the paced breathing exercises.
- Dietary supplements such as black cohosh, red clover, soy, and vitamin E can help control your hot flashes.
Remember that what works for one woman may not help another. If one strategy doesn’t provide relief, try another and discover what works for you.
Catherine Galeana is a writer and photographer who survived menopause and shares what she learned in the process.
Catherine says this about herself, "I was just getting into yoga when I started searching for help with my own perimenopause. And yoga led me to discover a wealth of safe, natural remedies that worked."
(c) Copyright – Catherine M. Galeana. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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