As if having hot flashes alone isn’t bothersome enough, many women with menopause wonder if their sudden onset of intense heat waves will be worse in the summertime. It makes perfect sense to wonder if the hot summer heat would exacerbate the situation – but is that really the case?
The Cleveland Clinic reports that indeed, yes, heat can produce hot flashes. It’s not guaranteed that if you’re a menopausal woman you’ll get hot flashes from more intense heat, but there is a higher likelihood. According to the online health source, any kind of added heat can trigger hot flashes including intense physical activity, smoking, or, for some women, even eating spicy foods can do it. Try to avoid these things, especially in the summer months.
Telling the difference between regular heat and hot flashes
Dr. Melynda Barnes, a Board-Certified Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Otolaryngology doctor explains, “One way to tell the difference is hot flashes usually start in the core and rise up to the face or scalp. Plus, they are often accompanied by flushing, sweating and in some women palpitations or a sense of anxiety.”
Dr. Barnes goes on to stress that if a woman is not currently going through menopause or perimenopause, then she is probably not experiencing a hot flash.
The science behind why summer heat can trigger hot flashes
From rising temperatures to being dehydrated, there are many reasons why the summer can kick hot flashes into higher gear.
Eileen Durward, a seasoned Menopause Advisor for A. Vogel UK reveals that aside from not drinking enough fluids and staying out in the heat too long, “the main reason hot flushes can get worse is all to do with the way our body temperature is regulated.” Durward says that the hypothalamus, a gland in the brain responsible for controlling our body temperature, goes a little haywire due to the decrease of estrogen during menopause, causing the body to think it is warmer than it actually is. This malfunction in body temperature regulation gets worse for menopausal women in the summer, so it’s important to be mindful of the heat and its effects.
How to minimize setting off hot flashes in the summer
If you’re a menopausal woman or are going through perimenopause, you’ve probably already heard that it’s a great time to incorporate a healthier diet into your life and a consistent but not overbearing exercise routine. But besides that, you can also try these sweat-proof tips and tricks to avoid hot flashes during the summer heat:
- Wear breathable fabrics such as cotton and avoid synthetic materials like polyester
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration
- Turn the thermostat in your house down to maximize comfort levels
- If staying outdoors for a while in high heat, keep an ice pack or cool cloth near the neck area to keep your body temperature down
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol, if possible, or limit your intake while being outside