A Answers (18)
Stephen K. Montoya, MD, OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology), answered on behalf of Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center
Brandon Riggan, MD, OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology), answered on behalf of TriStar Hendersonville Medical CenterSeveral treatments have been shown to have benefit for hot flashes during menopause. These include hormonal therapies, certain antidepressant medications, Neurontin, and clonidine (a blood pressure medication). Plant based estrogens are also available over the counter but have been shown to be of varying effectiveness.
Kelly Traver, Internal Medicine, answeredHot flashes can be minimized in some women by avoiding hot beverages, spicy food, alcohol, and caffeine and trying to minimize stressful situations. Some women find that adding soy to their diet diminishes hot flashes, but it's probably best to limit soy to only one or two servings a day, since some studies indicate that too much soy might promote some types of breast cancer. Hormones or nonhormonal medications are available if symptoms are debilitating, but most women can get by with simple lifestyle measures.
Donna Hill Howes, RN, Family Medicine, answered
Hot flashes can be managed by avoiding triggers such as alcohol or spicy foods. Some other triggers may be smoking, stress, and heat. Also, try to wear loose-fitting clothing and keep air circulating. Fans can be a help to keep rooms cool and well-ventilated. Deep breathing exercises at the beginning of a hot flash may lessen the intensity, too.
Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, MD, OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology), answered
Boston Women's Health Book Collective, Administration, answeredThere are several effective, natural ways to cope with hot flashes. Wearing layers of clothing that can easily be removed when the heat becomes intense is an option. Many women opt to wear lighter fabrics like cotton -- even in winter -- because cotton absorbs perspiration.
While some women find such coping strategies effective, others may want to adopt a more preventive approach. Several options exist, including lifestyle changes, paced respiration, complementary health practices, and prescription medications, including hormone treatment.
Mehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
Watch the video to learn more ways to reduce the hot flashes during menopause, from Dr. Oz.
Hot flashes can be treated through diet, exercise, reduction in stimulants, and by taking medication. While medication is by far the most effective there are concerns about increasing the risk of breast cancer. If you choose this route, be sure to talk to your OBGYN about your individual risk. Diet can help decrease the intensity and frequency of hot flashes but not as effectively as hormone replacement therapy. Reducing stimulants like coffee, tea, alcohol, and chocolate can also help. Some studies say increasing soy products can help reduce hot flashes. In general it is important to remember that this is not a permanent condition and that it will pass.
Discovery Health answered
A doctor explains how to deal with hot flashes in this clip from Discovery Health's "Women's Health Tips".
Staness Jonekos, Health Education, answeredWeight gain, irritability, skin changes and hot flashes are all symptoms of fluctuating hormones. Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms and possible treatments. Once you decide on a program to treat your symptoms, you will hopefully start to feel better. Going through physical changes can be stressful. Second, menopause usually happens as the natural aging process kicks in. If you've practiced a lifetime of poor eating choices and lack of exercise, it's unforgiving during menopause. Now is the time to start eating nutritiously, exercising regularly, and dedicating time to pampering.
The symptoms of menopause can be treated many different ways. And if they are not bothersome to you, then nothing needs to be done. There are over-the-counter preparations that are typically a soy-based compound that are very safe. If these are not working, you should talk to your physician about hormone replacement therapy (HRT). There are many different HRT options now including bioidentical compounds that are FDA-approved and typically covered by insurance. There are also specialized compounding pharmacies that will use bioidentical compounds that are made specially for you, these are not regulated by the FDA and you should speak to your physician to find out if this is a good option for you prior to starting. HRT may not be the right choice for everyone and does carry some risk. If HRT isn’t right for you, your doctor may suggest anti-depressants, a class of medications called SSRIs, that have been shown to help decease hot flashes and menopausal symptoms. Often these SSRIs can be used at much lower doses then what is used for depression.
Pharmacologically, estrogen and/or progesterone can minimize the sensation of hot flashes, as can clonidine, a medication sometimes used for blood pressure control. Lifestyle changes which have been reported to help include a diet high in anti-oxidants, strengthening exercises, smoking cessation, and decreased alcohol intake. Some individuals find counseling helpful in dealing with the stress of menopause.
RealAge answeredWearing layered, cotton clothing, drinking cold fluids at the start of a hot flash, and keeping a glass of cold water by the bedside may help alleviate hot flashes during menopause. There is some evidence that exercise, acupuncture, taking black cohosh, and engaging in various forms of relaxation therapy (e.g., meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises) may be helpful in alleviating symptoms. Keeping a journal helps track symptoms and helps identify personal, hot flash triggers.
Hot flashes occur because of decreasing estrogen levels, which is the principal hormone change at menopause. Anything that increases estrogen will decrease hot flashes. Simple things that cool you will help, as will ingesting foods with phytoestrogens such as soy, black cohosh, etc. For severe symptoms, estrogen replacement is the best treatment.
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Celeste Robb-Nicholson, Internal Medicine, answeredIf you have hot flashes from menopause, help turn down your internal thermostat by dressing in layers that are easily shed. A number of Web sites offer moisture-wicking clothing for women who have hot flashes. Keep one room in your home cool and retreat to it when flashes start. Try plunging your hands in cold water and patting it on your face, neck, and chest. Deep breathing exercises, initiated at the beginning of a hot flash, may nip it in the bud. There is some evidence that 40 mg daily of Remifemin, an over-the-counter compound of the herb black cohosh, is also effective.
Although it's debatable whether hot flashes are the sole culprit for lost sleep, they are certainly implicated. Sleeping in a cool room and using bedding and nightwear made of materials that wick moisture away from the body may prevent you from waking drenched at 2 a.m.
Julia Schlam Edelman, OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology), answeredIn the past women were told: "Hot flashes are all in your head." This suggested that women could control or suppress their hot flashes using willpower. Some of my patients have the idea that they should be able to banish their symptoms of menopause -- that is, conquer them through sheer will. Hot flashes may be triggered by anxiety, and they often are made worse by stress, but this does not mean they are imaginary.
Many women in previous generations were told to "Just tough it out, the hot flashes will go away on their own." Now we know this is not always possible. While it's true that some women never have night sweats or hot flashes, this is not due to their willpower. Their bodies simply do not have the precipitous drops in estrogen that trigger these symptoms. Some women's hot flashes are milder and less frequent, and therefore more tolerable.
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI) answeredThere are a number of ways to deal with hot flashes during menopause. Try dressing in layers (of cotton, not wool or synthetics), so you can quickly take off a layer of clothing when a hot flash comes on. You can try deep, slow breathing when you get a hot flash. Relaxation techniques you learn through yoga, meditation, or tai chi can help. Keep ice water handy, to drink when you get a hot flash.
Try to figure out what brings on the hot flashes, whether it’s certain drinks (coffee or tea, for example), the weather (maybe it’s hot outside), stress, or certain foods. If you can identify the trigger and avoid it, that might help.
Keep a fan nearby and make sure the temperature in your house or office is cool enough. For hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, some women find relief by going to an acupuncturist, getting enough exercise, drinking plenty of water, not smoking, and avoiding certain types of foods and drinks (such as spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine). Soy products are good to incorporate into your meals, because they might prevent or decrease hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.
Some women use herbal remedies for their hot flashes as well, though you should discuss this with your doctor first.
You can also talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for hormone replacement therapy (HRT), since hot flashes happen when your sex hormone levels fluctuate. HRT replaces the estrogen (and maybe the progesterone) that your body stops making during menopause. This can help with symptoms of hot flashes.
Not all women are candidates for HRT, however, and the drugs come with a long list of possible side effects. Ask your doctor about the risks and benefits of HRT. Some antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, blood pressure medicine, and mild sedatives also help with hot flashes. Talk to your doctor about whether those would be appropriate for you.
HealthyWomen answeredThere are a variety of strategies for coping with hot flashes, ranging from short-term hormone therapy (estrogen alone or estrogen plus progesterone for approximately two to three years and no more than five years) and other medical options to herbal remedies, but lifestyle strategies may be the easiest and quickest changes to try first:
- Dress in layers that may be removed if you find you're getting too warm.
- Sleep in a cool room.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid hot foods such as soups, spicy foods, caffeinated foods and beverages and alcohol, which can trigger hot flashes.
- Try to decrease stress.
- Exercise regularly.
- Breathe deeply and slowly, if you feel a hot flash starting; rhythmic breathing may help to "turn down" the heat of a hot flash or prevent it from starting altogether.
- Use a hand-held fan.