The best way to beat a hot flash is naturally. Hot flashes have a lot to do with the low levels of estrogen in your body, but other factors can cause your temperature control to go out of whack. Recent studies show that medication is not always helpful. Instead of estrogen therapy, look at less drastic measures first, partly because estrogen therapy is not known to be safe for women with a history of breast cancer—but also because you should always begin with the least aggressive approach to treating your menopausal symptoms.
If you can identify the things that trigger your hot flashes, you've made the first step in getting the upper hand. Keep a record of when they occur and what you were eating or doing, or how you were feeling at the time. Many women find that stress tops the charts as a trigger. Was that hot flash in the boardroom a random hit, or were you feeling under pressure at the time? Was it a full day of pressure without a break?
Solution: Ease the pressure. Give yourself more time to plan your work, to rehearse your presentation, to deliver your assignments, to arrive where you're going. If you are doing a series of presentations, give yourself a chance to relax and cool off between sessions. And plan your schedule so you avoid meetings or decision making when you're most likely to be in a sweat.
Other hot flash triggers:
* diet pills
* spicy food
* hot food
* hot tubs
* hot showers
* hot beds
* hot rooms
* hot weather
* Dress in layers, so you can peel off one layer after another as you get warmer.
* Don't wear wool, don't wear synthetics, and be wary of silk. That leaves cotton, linen, rayon, and more cotton. (Look at the bright side: You'll save on cleaning bills, and you can stop worrying about moths.)
* Avoid turtlenecks. Stick to open-neck shirts.
* Keep ice water at hand that you can sip to cool down your insides.
* Where possible, lower the thermostat. Maybe it's time for a decent air conditioner or a ceiling fan. Or maybe you'd prefer one of those little hand-held battery-operated fans or the foldable kind you flutter in front of your face. You can find perfectly adequate paper fans for about a dollar.
* Wear cotton pajamas or a nightgown. If you perspire a lot at night, your nightclothes are easier to change than the sheets.
* Use cotton sheets only, not synthetics.
* Get a bigger bed if you and your partner are on different heat planets but you still want to stay in close orbit.
* Take a cool shower before bed.
* Try a mild medication like Tylenol
* Arrive at meetings early so that you can get the coolest seat.
* Use your freezer liberally. A number of women talked about opening the freezer at home (or in the supermarket) and sticking their head in when a hot flash hits.
Lifestyle changes to alleviate hot flashes
Exercise: Increasing your level of activity (for example, taking the stairs instead of the elevator) can reduce hot flashes and have a positive impact on just about every other symptom attributed to menopause and growing older, including:
* mood swings
* eroded self-image
* loss of libido
* elevated cholesterol levels
* heart, bone, and muscle health.
Relaxation and stress reduction: It isn't unusual to have trouble dealing with stress, especially if you've undergone treatment for breast cancer. You may find that one of the following techniques will help you minimize the devastating effects of stress on your body:
* relaxation exercises
* breathing exercises
* biofeedback techniques.