Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause and perimenopause. It is also commonly seen in women with premature menopause and induced menopause.
Hot flashes cause women who experience them to suddenly feel overheated, it is usually accompanied by sweating and a red, flushed face. The actual cause for hot flashes is still unknown. Some researchers suggest that it might be related to changes in circulation. Hot flashes result from the dilation of the blood vessels in the surface of the skin. In some women, it is also associated with rapid heart rates and the chills. These hot feelings may result in night sweats, which can disrupt a woman's slumber.
The severity and frequency of hot flashes vary depending on the individual. For some women, hot flashes are experienced only for a short period of time in their lives, whereas for other women, hot flashes can occur for a lifetime. In most cases, these hot flashes are triggered by certain factors including:
- Spicy foods
- Tight clothing
By avoiding these triggers, individuals can reduce the severity and frequency of their hot flashes. Some simple home remedies to keep hot flashes at bay include:
- Wearing light and loose fitting clothes, and keeping the bedroom cool at night.
- Deep and slow abdominal breathing for 15 minutes in the morning and in the evening, and when the hot flashes begin. This can reduce the severity of the symptoms.
- Regular to moderate physical exercise, such as swimming, dancing, and bicycling also helps to manage the symptoms.
- Cool pillows are helpful to have a comfortable sleep.
Short-term hormone replacement therapy is one of the treatment options to prevent hot flashes. It is also helpful to control other symptoms of menopause, like vaginal dryness and mood swings. Several over-the-counter and prescription medications are also available to improve the symptoms of hot flashes. Over-the-counter medications include:
- Vitamin B complex
- Vitamin E supplementation
Prescription drugs to control hot flashes include:
- Certain blood pressure medications
- Certain anti-seizure drugs
- Certain hormones
More studies are required to confirm the effectiveness of alternative therapies used to control the symptoms of hot flashes and menopause. Always consult with a doctor before utilizing any herbal and botanical medications to treat your symptoms. Other products that may be helpful to alleviate the symptoms of this condition include:
- Soy products – They are rich in plant hormones like isoflavones that have weak low estrogen activity, and help to control hot flashes. One has to remember that soy products are beneficial for treatment, not soy supplements.
- Black cohosh – Studies show that black cohosh may be used on a short-term basis to manage hot flashes and night sweats.
- Evening primrose oil – There is no scientific evidence to support the use of this product, but is supposed to provide relief from hot flashes and night sweats. It is associated with multiple side effects, like nausea and diarrhea.
- Flax seed – It is considered to effectively treat hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause.
Hot flashes disappear naturally without any treatment. If the frequency and severity of your hot flashes increase over time, contact your health care professional and seek an appropriate treatment plan.