Facing The Heat: Does Hot Weather Increase Hot Flashes?

Hot flashes are the most common symptom of menopause, characterized by a sudden feeling of heat. Seventy-five percent of women in the United States heading into menopause experience hot flashes. This symptom is often so unbearable, especially during the summer months, that women seek medical attention. Some signs of hot flashes include: warmth entering through the chest, neck, and face, excessive sweating, and red skin. As these effects wane, women experience chills and shivers a few moments later.

The prevalence of hot flashes during the menopausal transition is due to a decrease in estrogen levels.  Research suggests that decreased estrogen levels cause the hypothalamus to become more sensitive to changes in body temperature, increasing the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. 

Seasonal Impacts on Hot Flashes

The symptoms of hot flashes exacerbate during the summer due to prolonged exposure to warm weather. Many women report having worse symptoms during the summer months, suggesting that an environmental factor that triggers hot flashes is seasons.

According to a study that observed seasonal effects of hot flashes and night sweats, there was a peak in July with troughs in January. Similarly, the peak for night sweats was in June, while the trough was in December. The likelihood of experiencing hot flashes was 66% greater during the seasonal peak than the seasonal trough, showing how factors such as temperature and sun exposure have a profound impact. 

 

How to Manage Hot Flashes in the Summer

The combination of seasonal heat, humidity, and hot flashes makes summer so unbearable for women in menopause. During this trying time, making key lifestyle changes can relieve incessant summer hot flashes.

 

  • Dress in layers
    When your body temperature starts to rise, all you can do is remove layers to cool down. Natural fabrics, such as cotton, linen, silk, and flax are lighter and more breathable than synthetic fabrics. Once the hot flash fades and the chilling occurs, you can simply wear your layers again.

 

  • Diet
    It is important to understand the common triggers of hot flashes. Try to reflect on your diet and see if you’re consuming too much alcohol, caffeine, hot beverages, and spicy foods. Make sure to also avoid processed foods, as they tend to heighten blood pressure, which could then increase the chances of hot flashes to occur.  Here are some foods that are known to have a protective effect against hot flashes. Incorporating these foods into your diet could support your hormonal balance.

    • Soy Products
      • Tofu
      • Soybeans
      • Soy Milk
    • Phytoestrogen-rich foods
      • Berries
      • Carrots
      • Oats
      • Apples
      • Wheat
    • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
      • Sardines
      • Salmon
      • Flaxseeds
      • Avocados
    • Cooling Foods
      • Cucumber
      • Radish
      • Watermelon

 

  • Dress in layers
    As there’s not much we can do to control the climate and weather, why not create a summer night routine to cool down? The trick is to take a tepid shower – lukewarm, but towards the colder side. Immersing the body in cool water before bedtime can help steady body temperatures. Drink plenty of water in the evening just as much in the daytime as staying hydrated also plays a key role in regulating your body temperature.  After a shower, you can apply Glow Botanica’s Tummy Butter all over your stomach and inner thighs to ease discomfort caused by hot flashes and night sweats. While a therapeutic and consistent night routine like this can support your body so that you can get restful sleep, Quality sleep also reduces the severity and frequency of hot flashes.

 

References

Harlow SD; Elliott MR; Bondarenko I; Thurston RC; Jackson EA; “Monthly Variation of Hot Flashes, Night Sweats, and Trouble Sleeping: Effect of Season and Proximity to the Final Menstrual Period (FMP) in the Swan Menstrual Calendar Substudy.” Menopause (New York, N.Y.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31567864/

 

“Hot Flashes.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 20 May 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hot-flashes/symptoms-causes/syc-20352790#:~:text=A%20hot%20flash%20is%20the,flash%20can%20also%20cause%20sweating

 

Linda Ziel. “Managing Menopause Hot Flashes in the Summer.” │ Ohio State Medical Center, 23 July 2018, https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/managing-menopause-hot-flashes-in-the-summer

 

Team, Wellness. “What to Eat When You Have Hot Flashes.” Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, 3 Aug. 2022, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-to-eat-when-you-have-hot-flashes/

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