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Hot flushes and night sweats

Hot flushes can range from feeling warm to experiencing intense heat on the upper body and face. Some women also experience sweating and palpitations (racing heart). 

The duration of hot flushes also varies between women. A hot flush generally lasts for 1–5 minutes. Sweating at night is common. The frequency of hot flushes varies from a couple of times a week to several times an hou

What can help manage hot flushes?

  • Wear natural fibres like cotton.
  • Dress in layers, so that it’s easy to take off an item of clothing during a hot flush.
  • Reduce intake of caffeine, alcohol, hot drinks and spicy foods.
  • Keep a small fan at work and drink cold water to cool down.
  • Keep a note of when hot flushes occur and what you’re doing when they occur; this may help identify the ‘triggers’ that cause flushes and help you find ways to avoid them.
  • Consider meditation.
  • Consider other lifestyle strategies, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise and not smoking.
  • Keep a packet of pre-moistened tissues/towels, such as baby wipes, handy for when hot flushes occur.

What can help manage night sweats?

  • Keep cold water by the bed ready to drink at the first sign of a sweat.
  • Use cotton sheets and cotton nightclothes.
  • Sleep under layers, so that extra bed covers can be removed easily.
  • Have a small fan running to keep the air moving while sleeping.

Some women find they can relieve symptoms if they switch to deep, slow abdominal breathing (controlled breathing) at the first sign of a hot flush. Regular exercise may ease hot flushes and improve sleep.

Some women find it helpful to share their experiences with other women as part of a support group. Meetings can be face-to-face or held over the telephone or internet.