Problem: You're having hot flashes and night sweats
One thing you need to know right away: They're not exactly the same thing, though they're related. Some women really do have one without the other, and that's normal. The explanation for this strange symptom is that when your body's natural hormone regulation system is overtaxed, it gets confused and sends out a signal to dispel heat. Your blood vessels dilate, your heart rate increases, your sweat glands open, and voilà -- that rush of heat and flushing we're all too familiar with.
Solution: Understand that your body's mixing up its signals and overreacting. You can often prevent the reaction by avoiding the triggers that set off the hot flashes and night sweats. Here's a list of hot-flash triggers you may not know about:
- Spicy food and hot sauce
- Acidic foods, such as tomatoes
- Tobacco and marijuana
- Hot tubs and saunas
- Intense aerobic exercise
- Stress and intense anxiety
Two other things that can make a big difference: losing weight and quitting smoking. Both smoking and extra pounds increase the incidence of hot flashes and night sweats enormously. Also, women who struggle with anxiety are five times more likely to suffer from hot flashes, so antianxiety remedies can help.
Experts recommend a few simple habits anyone can use to cope with hot flashes. Keep a glass of water by the bed; drinking water can cool down night sweats. Dress in layers, learn to recognize the sign of an impending hot flash (it feels like a surge of adrenaline), and react by dressing down. Make sure you're getting adequate calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D, which not only prevent osteoporosis but reduce hot flashes.
If nothing works and your hot flashes are so bad they're interfering with daily activities or preventing you from sleeping, you may need to consider hormone therapy.