Does hot weather increase hot flushes?
Hot flushes can get worse as the hot weather increases. This is often caused by fluctuating hormone levels affecting your body's temperature control, making you more sensitive to heat such as warmer weather temperatures. Not sleeping well, dehydration, or increased alcohol consumption can also make hot flushes worse when the weather is hotter.
Why are my hot flushes worse in hot weather?
Many women find that in the summer when the hot weather increases that their hot flushes may get worse and their sweating may be prolonged or they find that they get them more frequently.
So, let's take a closer look at the 4 reasons why this happens and what you can do to help yourself deal with hot flushes in hot weather.
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1. Temperature control
The main reason hot flushes can get worse is all to do with the way our body temperature is regulated. There's a gland in the brain called the hypothalamus which regulates our internal body temperature. And because of falling oestrogen, this regulation goes a little bit wonky.
So, what happens is your internal temperature regulation gets set lower than what it would normally, which means that you react quicker to a lower temperature rise.
It may well have been before menopause, you didn't feel uncomfortable until maybe the weather was 25 degrees or 26 degrees, whereas now, because your regulation has decreased, you will feel more uncomfortable at a much lower temperature. This is why during hot weather you can experience an increased frequency of hot flushes and also, night sweats.
The other thing that can happen is we can be more sensitive to other forms of heat. Some women tell me that even using a hairdryer in the summer will trigger a hot flush. If they have too hot a shower or a bath, that makes them flush or sweat more, especially when they come out of the bath or shower. And also, spicy foods can do it.
And for some women, it can also be due to the nervous system overfiring, so in summer days when you're in hot crowded situations like supermarkets, some women find that their flushes and sweats will start at that point.
As well as being more sensitive to lower heat levels, things like dehydration can be a huge issue. If you think about it, you're sweating more. You're getting hotter a lot more often and that can dehydrate you really, really quickly.
The problem is that dehydration will put extra pressure on your nervous system and that will trigger adrenaline which can trigger flushes and sweats, so this can become a real vicious cycle.
3. Being too hot to sleep
It may be that you're too hot to sleep at night. And again, if you're too hot, if you're getting more night sweats, your sleep is going to be disrupted. Poor sleep causes you to wake up tired, irritable, more vulerable the next day and your nervous system will not be rested. This can then trigger more hot flushes and sweats both during the day and in the evening.
4. Increased alcohol consumption
Worsening hot flushes could also be due to the alcohol. In the summer, we're out more in the garden, we're maybe meeting up with friends for a drink and a meal. And unfortunately, a lot of women can become much more sensitive to alcohol and that can also trigger flushes and sweats.
How to stay cool and reduce hot flushes in hot weather
So, what can you do in this situation? Here are some simple tips to help cool you down and reduce hot flushes during the summer:
Water, water, water!
I can hear you all saying already, "plenty of water." Absolutely. It's vital for lots of reasons during menopause, and even more vital in the summer to keep yourself well-hydrated so sip plenty of water during the day.
I know, especially at this time of the year for me, I'll have a big glass of water the minute I get out of bed just to start the hydration process off even before I have my breakfast.
Some women find that taking a cold drink when they feel a flush coming on can stop it quickly. So, it's worth experimenting a little bit with water, just to see if it can help you at the time as well as during the day.
You can look at the herb sage. We have our Menoforce Sage tablets, which are recommended for hot flushes, and night sweats, and also excessive sweating.
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Avoid the midday sun
This is when it's the hottest during the day. So, the hotter you get, the more likely you are to get extra flushes and sweats so trying to find shade or just to keep out of the sun for a few hours at that time of the day can sometimes make a lot of difference.
Wear light coloured clothing because light colours will reflect the sun whereas if you use dark colours, they will tend to absorb the heat a lot more.
Also, use natural fibres of cotton and linen, especially underwear because those are the areas that are most tightly closed.
A lot of women will find that when they start to perspire a lot more, it can get really uncomfortable just under the bra line, between the breasts, and also in the groin area, so make sure that your clothes here may be a little bit looser and are sort of cotton or other natural fibres.
Try and keep your bedroom cool
If you can, open a window. But I do know for those of you living in town areas, it may be too noisy. And you might find that the noise inhibits you from getting to sleep. Or even if you can have a small vent open somewhere. Have your bedroom door wide open too to allow the air to circulate as much as possible.
And again, use natural fibres for your beddings such as cotton sheets and a cotton duvet cover.
Some women tell me that what they do when it's really, really hot, although it would be a little bit of a fiddle going to bed, is that you can put your sheet or maybe a sheet to cover you during the night, put it in a plastic bag in the fridge or the freezer before you go to bed so that you're stepping into bed and you're already feeling nice and cool.
Watch your caffeine intake
It's important to limit your caffeine intake because that really will trigger flushes and sweats.
So, it's not just caffeine in coffee and tea, it's if you are maybe out for drinks and you're having mixers because quite a few mixers have caffeine in them, so just really be careful on that count because sometimes, the caffeine is hidden in things that we don't realise.
Use cool flannels or ice packs
You can put those on your pulse points to keep you cool. So that would be things like your wrist, your elbow, the back of the neck, the throat area, sometimes, even between the knees if you're wearing shorts or beachwear.
Doing this for 10 to 15 minutes (but no longer than 20 minutes at a time) can make a difference in helping to cool you down when you get extra hot. But just remember, don't hold ice directly onto the skin because you can end up with freezer burns instead of a lot of heat.
Invest in a good fan
If you're working from home, if it gets too hot and you're stuck at your desk, then have a good fan just to keep the air circulating and a little battery-operated handheld fan can sometimes make a lot of difference, especially when you can't get near your normal fans.
Key points to take away from this blog:
- It is very common for hot flushes can get worse as the hot weather increases, mainly due to your temperature control being a bit unstable during menopause.
- Other things during hot weather can also cause hot flushes to increase such as increased alcohol consumption, dehydration, and poor sleep due to being too hot to sleep, all of which are common hot flush triggers.
- Drinking plenty of water and doing things to avoid overheating can help you to reduce increased hot flushed when the weather is warmer.
Until next week, take care.