For relief of mild menopause-related hot flashes, start with these basic lifestyle recommendations. They are great for general health and disease prevention with minimal risk. Every woman should start here:
Maintain a healthy body weight: Extra weight acts as insulation resulting in a higher body core temperature and more hot flashes.
Don’t smoke: Cigarette smoking is associated with an increased number and severity of hot flashes.
Exercise regularly: Daily exercise is associated with a decreased number of hot flashes whereas a low level of physical activity is associated with an increased number. However, also note that strenuous exercise has been shown to trigger hot flashes in symptomatic, unconditioned women.
Eat healthy: Choose a diet that is high in grain products, vegetables, and fruits, and low in saturated fats and cholesterol. Watch for any personal hot flash triggers such as hot or spicy foods or drinks like caffeine or alcohol. Then avoid those triggers!
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Prepare for the occasion with hot flash sleepwear and linens. With specialized nightgowns and pillowcases that wick perspiration away from the skin, women won’t be waking up soaking wet or freezing cold after that bout of night sweats. Just go online and search for hot flash sleepwear to find a multitude of options.
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Paced respiration is a technique of slow, controlled, deep, rhythmic breathing. This practice has shown some potential in reducing hot flashes when performed just as a hot flash begins. In three clinical trials, paced respiration lowered hot flash frequency by approximately 50%.
To try it out, simply take in a deep, slow breath for 5 seconds, and then slowly exhale over 5 seconds. Try to keep your rib cage still by inhaling and exhaling using your stomach muscles.
It’s a good idea to practice this technique for a few minutes to master it. Then, whenever you feel a hot flash begin, start paced respiration and continue until the hot flash is over. Paced respiration for 15 minutes once or twice every day is also great for general stress reduction.
For further information on hot flashes and both prescription and nonprescription treatment options, visit the NAMS website.