Common Hot Flash Triggers
A dish of spicy chicken curry, a sip of coffee, or a dip in the hot tub — these are just a few things that may turn on your hot flashes. Do you know how to diffuse them?
By Diana Rodriguez
Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH
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Do you soak through your shirt at work or drench your sheets in your sleep? You’re probably experiencing hot flashes, a classic menopause symptom. As your hormone levels change during menopause, feeling overheated, flushed, and sweaty are common symptoms. In fact, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, up to 75 percent of American women have hot flashes during menopause, and 25 percent of those affect will experience hot flashes for five years or more.
Menopause is yet another part of a woman's normal reproductive cycle, one that signals the end of monthly menstruation and a woman’s fertile years. Fortunately, there are ways to manage and possibly prevent this uncomfortable .
Know Your Hot Flash Triggers
Hot flashes are characterized by flushing — turning red in the face, neck, and chest — and sweating. Rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and nausea may also occur. This menopause symptom can strike day or night and last anywhere from just a few seconds to as long as five hot minutes.
Here is a list of the most common hot flash triggers:
- Eating spicy foods.Spicy foods are a known hot flash trigger — even if you're not menopausal, eating a spicy Mexican meal or hot chicken wings can make you sweat and feel flushed.
- Drinking a hot beverage.While enjoying a hot cup of tea may relax you, it also increases your body temperature. That means you're more likely to feel flushed, sweat, and have a hot flash.
- Consuming caffeine and alcohol.Caffeine is another known trigger for hot flashes, though exactly how it generates sweating isn't understood. For women looking to prevent or control hot flashes, it's generally recommended that you avoid caffeinated foods and beverages. Women who drink alcohol also are more likely to have hot flashes.
- Relaxing in a hot bath, hot tub, or sauna.All of these hot, steamy environments make your body's core temperature shoot up, which can trigger a hot flash, sweating, and redness.
- Overheating in hot weather or a hot room.When you're menopausal, an average summer day or a room that’s just slightly overheated can trigger a full-on hot flash. Whenever your body heats up, expect the flushing and sweating to strike.
- Smoking.Smoking is known to trigger hot flashes and, of course, plenty of other health complications. To manage hot flashes and also improve your overall health, avoid cigarettes and exposure to secondhand smoke.
5 Ways to Keep Your Cool When Hot Flashes Strike
Keeping a diary of when and where you get hot flashes can help you figure out which specific foods, activities, and situations to avoid.
Here's what you can do to manage hot flashes when they do strike:
- Wear lightweight, absorbent cotton clothing (and pajamas at night).
- Grab a cold drink when you first start to overheat.
- Turn on a fan or go into a cool room.
- Try to relax with meditation or deep breathing exercises if you feel anxious or nervous.
- Dress in layers of clothing so that you can take off items as you start to feel warm.
For many women, hot flashes are an inevitable part of menopause. But with a little preparation, you can stay comfortable and keep hot flashes under control.
Video: Hormone Replacement Therapy Options for Menopause Symptoms, like Hot Flashes & Night Sweats
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