One minute you're going about your normal day, and the next you're drenched in sweat, feeling like you're about to burn up. Hot flashes are arguably one of the worst parts of menopause, and they affect about 75% of post-menopausal women and almost half of perimenopausal women. They come on suddenly, can happen multiple times a day or week and may persist for years.
Though they usually subside over time, how can you find relief in the meantime? Try one of Dr. Oz's hot-flash solutions to see if there's one that could help you.
Slight increases in the body's temperature can trigger hot flashes. Dress in layers so you can shed clothes when you feel too warm. You can also buy tank tops that are similar to clothes athletes wear during exercise that whisk away moisture and heat from your skin – just look for "cooling" and "wicking" on the tag. If you suffer from hot flashes at night, try lowering your thermostat or switching to cotton sheets and pajamas that let your skin breathe.
Carry Peppermint or Wipes
Try putting five drops of peppermint oil and a little water into a spray bottle. When the heat strikes, spray a little on your neck, chest or forehead. The spray will evaporate and the peppermint oil will provide a soothing, cooling effect (and make you smell fresh). A cool, moist washcloth or wipe can also help, and travel packs can be bought at your local drugstore.
Alter Your Diet
What to eat: Try some hot-flash trail mix. Almonds and sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamin E, which studies suggest may help with hot-flash symptoms. Plus, diets rich in fruits, including strawberries, pineapple, melon, apricot and mango, as well as Mediterranean diets have been shown to decrease the number of hot flashes, especially compared to diets high in fat and sugar. A better diet might help in other ways, too – weight loss has been shown to improve hot flashes.
What not to eat: Avoid hot and spicy foods, caffeinated drinks, alcohol and diet pills, which have all been shown to trigger hot flashes.
Try a Supplement
Black cohosh supplements are a controversial hot-flash remedy that has been shown to improve severity and frequency of hot flashes. However, black cohosh may not be appropriate for people with liver disease. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new supplement.
Yoga, meditation and other stress-reducing techniques could cut your hot flashes in half, one study says. If you can feel one coming on, practicing controlled breathing techniques and muscle relaxation regularly during a hot flash could cut down how often you'll get them.
Smoking is associated with increased hot flashes. Cut your cancer risk, improve your lung function and cool off all at once by kicking that cigarette habit.