Two-thirds of American women experience the symptoms of hot flashes or night sweatsduring pre-menopause and menopause, says Web MD. Hot flashes are characterized by a rise in body temperature that causes the blood vessels to dilate to cool the skin, creating a flushed, red face, often accompanied by excessive sweating. Night sweats may result when hot flashes are present during the night, causing women to sweat profusely, often requiring a change of bedclothes and bedding.
Many women are reluctant to begin hormone replacement therapy (HRT) due to fears of an increased risk of breast cancer or heart disease and turn to natural remedies to treat the symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats. Natural remedies provide relief for the symptoms without the risk of side effects from HRT.
Reduce or Eliminate Caffeine
Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and raises blood pressure and heart rate, which in turn triggers hot flashes and night sweats during menopause. Avoid beverages that contain high levels of caffeine like coffee, tea and soda. A switch to decaffeinated drinks can reduce the frequency and duration of hot flashes and sweating associated with menopause. This natural remedy may not eliminate the symptoms entirely, but will bring relief and make them more manageable.
Avoid Spicy Foods
Spicy foods are believed to set off your body’s temperature regulating system and often result in hot flashes and night sweats during menopause. The symptoms may be delayed and you may not associate spices with the onset of symptoms. Over time, you should experience fewer or less-intense symptoms if you cut back on spicy foods.
Refrain from Drinking Alcohol
Drinking alcohol causes a dramatic increase in estrogen levels that may be followed by a sudden drop in estrogen that triggers the onset of hot flashes. To avoid these symptoms, reduce or eliminate alcohol from your diet.
Moderate Your Sugar Intake
Eating foods high in sugar content boosts the metabolism and triggers both hot flashes and night sweats. Avoid foods high in refined sugars. Even though you may crave chocolate, it provides a double dose of hot flash-inducing triggers. The caffeine in the chocolate combined with the sugar makes you susceptible to increased symptoms.
Avoid Excessive Temperature Fluctuations
Fluctuations in room temperature can trigger your menopausal symptoms. Going from a hot area to a cooled area is just as likely to set them off as entering an overheated room. If you must deal with variations in temperatures, take a moment to rest and acclimate your body in a moderate area. Leaving the heat of a summer day and entering an air-conditioned area may cause symptoms to appear. Wait a few minutes in the lobby where there is less drastic change before entering that meeting. Turn the air conditioning down in your car prior to arrival at your destination to allow your body to become accustomed to a higher outside temperature before getting out in hot weather.
Sleep in a Cool Room
Lower the temperature in your bedroom to reduce the chances of night sweats. Use a fan pointed towards your bed or a ceiling fan to circulate air. Open a window to allow fresh, cool air to enter at night. Wear light clothing and keep the covers to a minimum. Chill your pillows prior to bedtime and use pillowcases that whisk moisture and heat away from your body. A cold pack for your head or neck will also reduce night sweats. Controlling nighttime temperatures increases your chances of getting a restful night’s sleep.
Drink Ice Water
Keep a glass of ice water on your nightstand and sip it whenever needed to keep your body cool and to avoid feeling overheated. This works during the day too. Not only will it reduce hot flashes and night sweats, you will not be tempted to drink caffeinated beverages if you have ice water readily available.
Wear Light, Absorbent Clothing
Tight fitting or synthetic clothing quickly raises body temperature and holds the heat close to the body. Choose loose fitting clothing made from natural materials to avoid overheating. If you must wear heavy clothing, dress with a t-shirt or light shirt underneath so you can remove outer layers if you begin to feel too warm.
When hot flashes strike, try to remain calm and relax. Getting tense only intensifies the symptoms. Remember, no matter how uncomfortable you may feel, the sensation typically passes quickly and you will soon be back to normal. Take a deep breath, open a window or step out for some fresh air and try to get your mind off the discomfort of flushing. Your body is hard at work adjusting to the changes of menopause. You can help it out by taking steps to eliminate some of the common triggers of hot flashes and night sweats.
Although hormone replacement therapy may be needed in severe cases, many women combat the annoying symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats during menopause by using natural remedies and controlling their environment with success. If symptoms continue despite your efforts and cause you to experience excessive discomfort, seek the advice of your medical professional.