Hot Flashes: Common and Burdensome
Hot flashes are a very common menopause symptom. They consist of a sudden feeling of being very hot. Sweating and skin flushing often accompany this. When a hot flash occurs at night, it is called a night sweat and it may majorly disrupt your sleep. Around 75 percent of women experience hot flashes at some point in their life and a normal length of time to have hot flashes may be as long as five years. Some women might still experience occasional hot flashes even a decade after menopause.
Hot flashes can be very disruptive to a woman’s life. She might avoid certain activities she used to enjoy, and she might suffer from chronic fatigue due to the sleep disturbance night sweats can cause. Fortunately, there are many treatment options for menopause symptoms, including hot flashes. For example, hormone replacement therapy, as well as natural herbal supplements, can mitigate the severity of your hot flashes. However, these treatments do not usually eliminate all hot flashes.
For maximum results in menopause symptom treatment, you should look to one often-overlooked treatment option. This is achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
The Effects of Obesity on Your Hot Flashes
Research confirms that gaining weight after menopause increases the frequency of hot flashes and night sweats. One recent study, published May 31, 2017 in the Journal of The North American Menopause Society, demonstrates that hot flashes are associated with a higher BMI, or body mass index.
The study observed over 700 Brazilian women aged 45 to 60. Researchers noted that obese women had more severe hot flashes than women of a healthy weight. The obese women in the study had hot flashes so bad they stopped doing certain activities and were less productive at their jobs.
This link between obesity and severe hot flashes is believed to be because body fat acts as a heat insulator. Researchers also noted that the obese participants suffered more joint pain, muscle pain and urinary tract problems.
But, there is always hope! Many studies have found that exercising regularly and losing a small amount of weight can reduce your hot flashes.
What’s the Best Way to Lose Weight?
If you are overweight or obese, losing just 5-10 percent of your body weight can produce noticeable health benefits. In addition to reducing and preventing hot flashes, it will lower your blood pressure, improve your body’s blood sugar control, and improve your blood lipid profiles. You will have a lower risk of major diseases like Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and if you already suffer from such a disease you will see an improvement. Psychological benefits you might see with weight loss include better self-esteem and body image.
Weight loss will seem daunting and difficult to practically anyone. You might be imagining feeling hungry all the time and spending hours in the gym every week. This is not necessary. In fact, the best way to lose weight is through a series of small and sustainable changes in your daily habits. Check out these realistic weight loss tips from the University of Michigan, and some more from the University of California. You may want to start with one of the tips and make it a solid daily habit before moving onto the next one.
Once you have a variety of healthy habits under your belt, consider counting your calories each day with a free phone app like MyFitnessPal. Keeping track of your caloric intake will make your weight loss more consistent and predictable.
The key words to remember when it comes to the treatment of excess body fat are gradual and sustainable. It is not recommended to lose more than two pounds per week. More than this amount is often not sustainable and may increase your chances of gaining the weight back. In general, slow weight loss is better as it gives you the chance to truly change your diet and exercise habits in the long-term. This way, you have a much better chance of keeping the weight off for good.