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Menopausal Hot Flashes and Summer: Your Survival Guide

After a long cold winter and a chilly spring, most of the people living here in Boise, Idaho, look forward to the arrival of summer, when long sunny days and high temperatures are the norm.

But not everyone is equally intent on making time for fun in the sun. For women going through menopause, summertime heat and humidity can trigger hot flashes or make them far worse.  

An estimated three in four middle-aged women experience hot flashes, or that sudden feeling of warmth that reddens your face, spreads quickly over your upper body, increases your heart rate, and leaves you perspiring.

While hot flashes do tend to become more frequent or intense in warmer weather, there are ways to manage the problem and stay in control of your day. Here are some of our best tips:

Avoid hot flash triggers

It may seem like hot flashes are a random, unpredictable occurrence, but in reality, they’re often precipitated by some type of trigger. If you pay attention to what’s happening just before a hot flash strikes, you may be able to identify your personal triggers and avoid them.  

Some of the most common hot flash triggers include stress, hot environments, wearing tight clothing, smoking, caffeine, alcohol, sugary foods, and spicy foods.

Dress for the weather

Dressing in easy-to-peel layers may work well when a hot flash hits in cool weather, but how can you improve your choice of clothing in the summer, when you’re not likely to wear more than a single layer?

For starters, you can opt for looser pieces of clothing. Besides helping you avoid restrictive clothing that may trigger a hot flash, wearing loose, flowy tops, bottoms, and dresses can help you conceal any wetness, if you tend to sweat a lot.

The materials you choose to wear can also make a major difference. Whenever possible, choose cotton, linen, and lightweight breathable wool over silk or synthetic materials.  

Choose the right sunscreen

If you can’t use loose, long-sleeved linen shirts, billowing linen pants, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your skin from the sun, make sure you choose a breathable sunscreen that won’t stop your body from sweating and make you overheat.

You’ll also want to choose a product with active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium oxide, rather than one that contains chemicals like oxybenzone and avobenzone, which are synthetic estrogens that can further disrupt your hormonal system.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Keeping yourself hydrated throughout the day can help alleviate hot flashes and replenish any fluids you lose when you sweat. Sipping ice water when you feel a hot flash coming on is also a great way to lower your body temperature and cool yourself from the inside out.

Stay cool, especially in a heat wave

If you’re like many women, spending too much time in a hot environment is a surefire way to trigger a hot flash. In the summer, especially when a heat wave strikes, it’s a good idea to take advantage of air conditioning and stay inside, at least during the hottest part of the day.

If you don’t have air conditioning, you can maintain a cooler home environment by keeping your shades drawn and using several fans to keep the air circulating through each room. If that’s not enough, find a cool place, like a library, café, or movie theater, to get some reprieve from the heat.

Placing a dehumidifier in the bedroom and taking a cool shower before you go to bed each night can also help you avoid or minimize hot flashes — and night sweats — when your house is warmer than usual.

Take a mindful approach

If you feel stressed out when you feel a hot flash coming on, take a moment to slow down and turn your attention inward. By focusing on your breath — inhale evenly, slowly, and fully, and exhale with the same type of control — you can take the edge off an impending hot flash.  

In fact, research shows that women who practice controlled breathing are able to reduce the severity of hot flashes by as much as 44%.

Keep your body moving

Getting regular exercise is something of a frontline defense when it comes to counteracting the effects of menopause. Not only can staying active substantially reduce your symptoms (including hot flashes), but it can also prevent them from appearing in the first place.

Getting an hour of moderately intense exercise most days of the week can also help you maintain a healthy body weight, and women of a healthy body weight tend to have fewer and less severe hot flashes.

In the summer months, keep outdoor exercise to the early morning hours when temperatures are relatively low. Avoid exercising close to bedtime, as it can make it harder to get a good night’s rest.

Speak with a menopause expert

If you can’t seem to find the level of relief you’re looking for, call the office in Boise, Idaho, or use online booking to schedule an appointment with Dr. Weyhrich today. He can help you manage your symptoms safely and effectively, and even determine if you’re a good candidate hormone replacement therapy.

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