Night Sweats and Hot Flashes
Hot flashes usually start as a warm feeling that builds in intensity around the face, neck and upper chest. Lasting form several minutes to a half hour, bouts can reoccur as frequently as twenty times per day/night.
Symptoms for night sweats are nearly identical as those associated with hot flashes, but occur when the sufferer is asleep. Severe night sweats are especially insidious as they can lead to sleep deprivation. If left unchecked, insomnia can lead to heart palpitations, nervousness, high blood pressure and eventually, more serious medical concerns.
Mild hot flashes can be controlled without the use of risk-laden pharmaceuticals by means of changes to diet, exercise, clothing, sleepwear, and bedding coupled with a few common sense measures.
Diet - Several light meals during the day are better than two or three heavy meals; the less stress on the digestive system, the less risk of triggering a hot flash or night sweat episode. Stay away from caffeine laden foods and beverages as well as alcohol. Spicy foods should be limited or extremely hot foods which could cause one to perspire. Fruits, whole grain products, yogurt, dark fibrous vegetables and fish are a sure bet. Avoid fatty foods, prepared foods, junk food and drive-through meals.
Exercise – Though harder to do with age, exercise is vital, especial mild load-bearing exercise (walking). A walk a day, keeps the hot flash away.
Clothing – lightweight layered clothing is best, especially those with wicking properties. Outer layers can be removed if one feels the onset of a hot flash.
Sleepwear – Similarly, sleepwear should be layered and if possible, made from wicking type fabrics. Flannel and heavy cotton sleepwear should be avoided.
Bedding – The right type of functional bedding is also important. Lightweight sheets and a lightweight down comforter might be all that is required, even on the coldest nights. The comforter can easily be “kicked off” without coming fully awake.
Common Sense and Accessories - Common sense comes into play to avoid hot flashes. Avoid (if possible) stressful situations. If the sufferer finds herself in an uncomfortably warm or hot area, move to a cooler area or air-conditioned room. Don’t smoke. Research “personal cooling devices” on the internet. A small portable bedside fan can be a life saver. The idea here is (should a night sweat episode occur) to cool off and get back to sleep quickly.
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