Menopause is a fact of life for all women. One of the biggest complaints of women going through menopause or perimenopause (the time before menopause) is hot flashes. In fact nearly 75% of women say they suffer from this uncomfortable symptom. Women may have hot flashes for up to five years after menopause sets in.
What is a Hot Flash?
A hot flash is a feeling of extreme heat that is not caused by external sources such as the weather. They can even occur during sleep producing night sweats. The cause of hot flashes is unknown, but it's likely due to hormonal changes since it usually occurs during menopausal years. Hot flashes are also common in women who go through abrupt menopause, such as after a hysterectomy. For these women, the hot flashes are often more intense and last longer than those women who go through natural menopause.
For some women, a hot flash is mildly annoying, but for others the intensity may negatively affect their quality of life. During a hot flash, you may feel:
- tingling fingers
- racing heart rate
- suddenly warm skin
- flushed or red face
Hot Flash Triggers
Hot flash triggers may be different for each woman. Some common triggers include:
- spicy food
- being in a hot room
- tight clothing
Keep a journal to track your hot flashes. Write down things like what you were doing, eating, or wearing. After a couple of week you may notice a pattern, and then you can work to avoid the things that trigger hot flashes.
Remedies for Relief
Remedies for hot flashes may not eliminate all hot flashes, but suffering can be greatly reduced. It's a good idea to dress in layers so you can remove a layer when a hot flash begins. Also sipping ice water to cool down can reduce the symptoms.
Hormone therapy is the only FDA approved treatment for hot flashes, although there are some non-hormonal treatments that effectively reduce the symptoms of hot flashes.
- Lifestyle changes: Knowing your triggers for hot flashes, and avoiding them. Being overweight may increase the chances of hot flashes. Try adding in more plant estrogens to your diet. These estrogens may work to reduce hot flashes. Click here to see natural sources of plant estrogens.
- Nonprescription remedies: Evening Primrose Oil, Black Cohash, Soy, Acupuncture, Vitamin E, Vitamin B, and ibuprofen may help reduce symptoms. Be sure to talk to your doctor because some over the counter supplements can interfere with prescription medications.
- Prescription remedies: Prescription remedies are often considered more effective than non-prescription remedies. Some prescription remedies are used "off-label" meaning they are developed for another reason, but they have been found effective for treating hot flashes. Certain anti-depressants have been known to reduce the symptoms of hot flashes.
- Hormone therapy: This may be a short term solution because there are risks associated with it. When used correctly, hormone therapy can be a safe treatment option.