Hot flushes are sudden intense hot sensations in your body. They can be very uncomfortable leaving you soaked in sweat. They are caused by hormonal fluctuations during pre-menopause and menopause, due to a declining level of oestrogen and progesterone.
Symptoms of menopause include hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings, osteoporosis, ageing skin, lack of energy, joint pains, weight gain, headaches, dry and brittle hair, thinning hair and poor memory. They are a classic sign of menopause and the most common reason to seek treatment. They are also characterised by reddening of skin and sweating.
Eighty-five per cent women in Western countries experience hot flushes. During a hot flush women may also experience irregular heartbeat and pulse, and profuse perspiration. Cold chills often follow hot flushes. Sleep usually gets disturbed due to night sweats.
Beat the heat
Taking Vitamin E supplements (up to 800 IU) reduces the severity of hot flushes. Those who do not benefit from vitamin E may add soya to their diet.
Increase your workout, and walk briskly for 30-40 minutes every day. Exercise increases endorphins, which make you feel good.
Change your diet to include fresh fruits and raw juices. Avoid greasy meals, late nights, overeating, alcohol and coffee.
Eat small but frequent meals to avoid the heat generated by digesting large amounts of food.
Phytoestrogens relieve menopausal symptoms, so consume foods rich in isoflavones like legumes and soya products such as tofu and soya milk.
Yam (suran) contains natural compounds, which reduce menopausal symptoms.
Eat sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, spinach and papaya.
Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed in your diet. It is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which is good for the heart and contains phytoestrogens called lignans. Grind the seeds and add to your cereal, yoghurt, salad, stew or soup.
Avoid spicy foods to reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flushes.
Wear layers and natural fabrics like cotton. Reduce stress with the help breathing exercises and yoga. Keep ice water in handy.
Take a shower before going to bed.
Use cotton sheets to drape yourself.
Cool off with sprays or moist wipes.
Avoid spicy food, alcohol, hot weather, sauna, stress, anger and cigarettes.
Ayurvedic herbs such as Brahmi, Ashoka, Shatavari and supplements of isoflavones are effective.
However, if your hot flushes are severe and you do not find a cure, your doctor may suggest a limited course of hormone replacement therapy to make menopause easy.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.