How to deal with hot flashes during the summer

With summer heating up, women going through menopause definitely don't need hot flashes to make it worse. Many people, men and women, tend to know that hot flashes are associated with a big change in life, but there's more to it than that.

Nationally recognized menopause specialist Dr. Diana Bitner from Spectrum Health,  explains why hot flashes happen and how to reduce them happening during menopause.

Hot flashes happen because the internal thermostat in the brain changes with loss of estrogen, and gets more sensitive. Dr. Bitner describes it as an air conditioning unit; a hot flash is the air conditioning turning on to cool down the over-heated body. During menopause, the thermostat reacts and triggers the air conditioning, even when it is only a little hot.

Hot flashes can be triggered for a variety of reasons during menopause:

  • Low estrogen (menopause but even low dose birth control pills can cause)
  • Gaining weight (is like a sweater you can’t take off)
  • Inadequate water
  • Too much caffeine
  • Stress-adrenalin rush
  • Low brain serotonin as associated with long term chronic stress
  • Hot beverages
  • Alcohol
  • High blood sugar
  • Low blood sugar
  • fatigue/sleep deprivation

Women can avoid or reduce hot flashes on their own by doing the following:

  • Maintain healthy body weight
  • Drink enough water-60-80 oz. net per day (water - alcohol or caffeine)
  • Practice yoga, practice calm
  • Aware of triggers, especially sugar or alcohol
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Eat small portions every 3-4 hours of complex carbs i.e brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat tortillas, sweet potatoes to keep blood sugar stable

There are also medical treatments that can help reduce hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause like:

  • FDA approved Estrogen patches
  • FDA approved Estrogen pills
  • FDA approved Estrogen gel
  • SSRI medications-also used for depression and anxiety, stabilize the thermostat
  • SNRI-also used for depression, anxiety, stabilize the thermostat

Dr. Bitner's office is located at 3800 Lake Michigan Drive Northwest, Suite A. To schedule an appointment with her, call (616)-267-8225.

All information was provided by Dr. Diana Bitner, her blog. Read more.

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