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What Do Hot Flashes Feel Like?
Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause that affect many women during the transitional period. They are characterized by feeling hot all of a sudden and this sensation of heat spreads throughout the body, often accompanied by sweating, rapid heartbeat, and feelings of anxiety. While hot flashes can be triggered by a variety of factors, including stress and certain foods, many women wonder if hot weather can make hot flashes worse.
Why do you get hot flashes?
They are caused by hormonal changes in the body that affect the hypothalamus, which is responsible for regulating body temperature. Specifically, the decline in estrogen levels that occurs during menopause can disrupt the hypothalamus, causing it to perceive a sudden increase in body temperature, even when there isn’t one. The body then responds by trying to cool itself down, leading to the sensation of a hot flash.
Are Hot Flashes Worse in Summer?
Hot flashes in women are the most common symptom of menopause, characterized by a sudden feeling of heat. Seventy-five percent of women in the United States heading into menopause experience hot flashes. This symptom is often so unbearable, especially during the summer months, that women seek medical attention. Some signs of hot flashes include: warmth entering through the chest, neck, and face, excessive sweating, and red skin. As these effects wane, women experience chills and shivers a few moments later.
The prevalence of sudden hot flashes during the menopausal transition is due to a decrease in estrogen levels. Research suggests that decreased estrogen levels cause the hypothalamus to become more sensitive to changes in body temperature, increasing the frequency and intensity of hot flashes.
Seasonal Impacts on Hot Flashes in Menopause
The symptoms of hot flashes exacerbate during the summer due to prolonged exposure to warm weather. Many women report having worse symptoms during the summer months, suggesting that an environmental factor that triggers hot flashes is seasons.
According to a study that observed seasonal effects of hot flashes and night sweats, there was a peak in July with troughs in January. Similarly, the peak for night sweats was in June, while the trough was in December. The likelihood of experiencing hot flashes was 66% greater during the seasonal peak than the seasonal trough, showing how factors such as temperature and sun exposure have a profound impact.
A heat wave during menopause can be particularly challenging for women experiencing hot flashes. While hot weather itself may not directly cause hot flashes, it can exacerbate symptoms and make them more uncomfortable. During a heat wave, it’s important for women in menopause to take extra precautions to stay cool and hydrated.
How to Manage Unbearable Hot Flashes in the Summer
The combination of seasonal heat, humidity, and hot flashes makes summer so unbearable for women in menopause. During this trying time, making key lifestyle changes can relieve incessant summer hot flashes.
- Dress in layers
When your body temperature starts to rise, all you can do is remove layers to cool down. Natural fabrics, such as cotton, linen, silk, and flax are lighter and more breathable than synthetic fabrics. Once the hot flash fades and the chilling occurs, you can simply wear your layers again.
It is important to understand the common triggers of hot flashes. Try to reflect on your diet and see if you’re consuming too much alcohol, caffeine, hot beverages, and spicy foods. Make sure to also avoid processed foods, as they tend to heighten blood pressure, which could then increase the chances of hot flashes to occur. Here are some foods that are known to have a protective effect against hot flashes. Incorporating these foods into your diet could support your hormonal balance.
- Soy Products
- Soy Milk
- Phytoestrogen-rich foods
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Cooling Foods
- Soy Products
- Dress in layers
As there’s not much we can do to control the climate and weather, why not create a summer night routine to cool down? The trick is to take a tepid shower – lukewarm, but towards the colder side. Immersing the body in cool water before bedtime can help steady body temperatures. Drink plenty of water in the evening just as much in the daytime as staying hydrated also plays a key role in regulating your body temperature. After a shower, you can apply Glow Botanica’s Tummy Butter all over your stomach and inner thighs to ease discomfort caused by hot flashes and night sweats. While a therapeutic and consistent night routine like this can support your body so that you can get restful sleep, Quality sleep also reduces the severity and frequency of hot flashes.
Harlow SD; Elliott MR; Bondarenko I; Thurston RC; Jackson EA; “Monthly Variation of Hot Flashes, Night Sweats, and Trouble Sleeping: Effect of Season and Proximity to the Final Menstrual Period (FMP) in the Swan Menstrual Calendar Substudy.” Menopause (New York, N.Y.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31567864/
“Hot Flashes.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 20 May 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hot-flashes/symptoms-causes/syc-20352790#:~:text=A%20hot%20flash%20is%20the,flash%20can%20also%20cause%20sweating
Linda Ziel. “Managing Menopause Hot Flashes in the Summer.” │ Ohio State Medical Center, 23 July 2018, https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/managing-menopause-hot-flashes-in-the-summer
Team, Wellness. “What to Eat When You Have Hot Flashes.” Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, 3 Aug. 2022, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-to-eat-when-you-have-hot-flashes/