How to Deal With Hot Flashes

Four Methods:Making Lifestyle ChangesAdjusting Your DietUsing Medical TreatmentUsing Natural Remedies

Every woman who goes through menopause looks for ways to deal with those pesky hot flashes. Some women experience hot flashes as a slightly warm sensation, while others get uncomfortably red, hot, and sweaty.[1] Hot flashes occur secondary to declining estrogen levels in menopause. By making lifestyle changes, using medical treatments, and trying herbal remedies, you can reduce the severity and frequency of your hot flashes.

Method 1
Making Lifestyle Changes

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    Layer your clothing. When a hot flash strikes, you don't want to be trapped in a heavy sweater with nothing underneath. Wear a light undershirt or camisole with a cardigan or pullover on top, then a coat over that in the winter. Be prepared for hot flashes by wearing layers you can shed easily and quickly when necessary.[2]
    • There is menopausal friendly clothing available for women to help regulate their core body temperature. Wearing menopausal t shirts can help soak up any sweat and keep you cool.[3]
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    Control the temperature in your home. Keeping the heat down and the air moving can help you cope with hot flashes. Reduce the temperature to the lowest possible temperature at which you and your family are still comfortable.[4]
    • You can also turn on the air conditioning or use fans to regulate the air in your home.
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    Use a fan while sleeping. It can be difficult to sleep when you are hot and uncomfortable. Prevent sleeplessness and insomnia by turning on a fan at night when your warm bed may make it difficult to sleep.[5]
    • You can also put an ice pack under your pillow to help lower your body temperature when you sleep. Flip your pillow over in the morning so you sleep on the cooler side of the pillow at night.
    • There is menopause friendly bedding available that soaks up any moisture and helps to prevent sleeping on a wet surface. It is also softer on your skin when you are sweating, unlike cotton or poly-cotton sheets.[6]
    • Keep a change of clothes next to your bed in case you wake up with night sweats and do not want to go back to sleep in wet clothing. Some women find it helpful to wear socks in bed at night to regulate their body temperature.
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    Practice deep breathing. Studies show that practicing deep breathing can actually reduce the frequency of hot flashes.[7] A particular technique called paced respiration can be especially beneficial.
    • To perform paced respiration, take slow deep breaths through your nose, expanding your diaphragm. Then, exhale slowly, contracting your diaphragm. Do this for about six to eight breaths per minute. Practice this technique twice a day, once in the morning and once at night before bed, for 15 minutes. You can also do paced respiration when you feel the beginnings of a hot flash.
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    Take a yoga or meditation class. Many strands of yoga emphasize proper breathing techniques during class. Taking a yoga or meditation class will allow you to practice paced respiration and to learn more about deep breathing.
    • Yoga can also help to reduce your stress levels. Stress is a big trigger of hot flashes and addressing your stress levels can reduce your hormone levels, thereby cutting down on your hot flashes.[8]
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    Stop smoking. Smoking raises your risk of hot flashes.[9] If you can, quit smoking altogether. If it seems impossible for you to quit, try to cut back on smoking as much as possible during menopause.

Method 2
Adjusting Your Diet

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    Maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Women who are overweight are more susceptible to hot flashes. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, coupled with daily exercise, can help you stay at a healthy weight. Always consult a registered dietician or your doctor before altering your diet.[10]
    • Consume more vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein. Shape your meals so they contain one protein source, one low fat source and one low carb vegetable source. A low carb diet can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and improve the symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes.[11]
    • Healthy protein sources include egg whites, soy products, and chicken. Fish such as salmon and trout, as well as shellfish like shrimp and lobster are also good sources of protein in a healthy diet. Non-fat greek yogurt is also a good way to get protein and dairy in your diet.
    • Your diet should also focus on food sources of vitamin E, which can lower the severity of hot flashes in women. Leafy greens, tropical fruit, and nuts are all good sources of vitamin E.
    • Low carb vegetables include: broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, swiss chard, lettuce, cucumber, and celery. Steaming or baking vegetables, rather than frying them, will ensure you receive all the nutrients and antioxidants in low carb veggies for the week.
    • Healthy fat sources include avocados and nuts, as well as olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil. Cooking with these oils will boost your fat levels without causing you to gain weight.
    • Cut out carbs, sugars, and animal fats. Foods high in carbs and sugars cause your body to secrete insulin, which is a main fat storage hormone in your body. When your insulin levels go down, your body can start to burn fat. It also helps your kidneys shed excess sodium and water, which will help you reduce any water weight.[12]
    • Avoid foods high in starch and carbs like potato chips, french fries, and white breads. You should also avoid consuming foods high in sugar like soft drinks, candy, cakes, and other junk food. Animal fats found in red meat and gamey meat like lamb can be fattening and slow down your metabolism as they are difficult to digest.
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    Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine is a common trigger for hot flashes and mood swings among menopausal women. Replace caffeine with water whenever possible. Instead of going for coffee or black tea, choose herbal tea or sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Cut back on dark chocolate, too, as it contains caffeine.[13]
    • Like caffeine, alcohol can make hot flashes and mood swings worse. Whenever possible, choose a nonalcoholic beverage instead of an alcoholic one. When you do choose alcohol, limit your consumption to no more than one drink per day.
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    Incorporate plant estrogens into your diet. Naturally occurring plant estrogens may help reduce the severity of hot flashes. Their effect is not as strong as that of human estrogen, but they may still be helpful. Plant estrogens can be found in the following foods:[14]
    • Soybeans
    • Chickpeas
    • Lentils
    • Tofu
    • Crushed or ground flaxseed
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    Stay away from spicy foods. Spicy foods are known to trigger hot flashes in many women. Try seasoning your food with milder seasonings, like basil, chives, and oregano, instead of using blackening spices, peppers, curry, and other hot spices.[15]

Method 3
Using Medical Treatment

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    Consider hormone therapy. If your hot flashes are severe, hormone therapy may provide some relief. Doctors usually prescribe very low doses of estrogen to offset the effects of menopause.[16] Talk to your doctor about whether this option is right for you.
    • Hormone replacement therapy has specific risks and benefits. The risks have probably been overstated for the 50-60 year old population. Hormones also reduce the risk of bone fractures. While hormone therapy may help reduce hot flashes, it has also been connected with a variety of severe medical issues, such as breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Be sure to do thorough research and ask your doctor a lot of questions before choosing this option.[17]
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    Ask your doctor about antidepressants. Some women find that antidepressants help mitigate the symptoms of menopause. If you would prefer not to undergo hormone therapy, this might be the right option for your needs.[18]
    • The most effective treatment is hormone replacement therapy. Certain antidepressants can work about half as well as hormones.
    • Keep in mind possible side effects of antidepressants include nausea, dizziness, dry mouth, weight gain, or sexual dysfunction.
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    Talk to your doctor about anti-seizure medication to control your hot flashes. Some women find relief from hot flashes by taking anti-seizure medication like Gabapentin. You may experience side effects like drowsiness, dizziness, and headaches while on this medication.[19]
    • Your doctor may also recommend you try high blood pressure medication to regulate your hot flashes. The drug Clonidine, in pill or patch form, may be prescribed. The side effects of Clonidine include dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, and constipation.

Method 4
Using Natural Remedies

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    Take vitamin E supplements. Be aware that vitamin supplements are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration, so always be cautious about taking any over the counter supplements. In one study, vitamin E supplements were shown to be effective at reducing the symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes.[20]
    • You may be at risk of heart failure if you use high doses of this supplement for a long period of time. Talk to your doctor before taking any natural supplements.
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    Use black cohosh or evening primrose oil. These are herbal treatments that may relieve your hot flashes. Black cohosh is a supplement that can produce estrogen like effects on your body and offer relief from hot flashes. However, you may experience mild stomach upset and the supplement can be harmful to your liver and there is no evidence that it works better than placebo pills.[21][22]
    • Evening primrose oil is a supplement that can help relieve your hot flashes, however, you may experience side effects like nausea, diarrhea, and headache.
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    Consider acupuncture and hypnosis. These alternative treatments can help to reduce the frequency and severity of your hot flashes. Some women have experienced relief via acupuncture, however the treatment can be costly and may require multiple sessions.[23][24]
    • Research has shown that hypnosis can successfully relieve hot flashes in women with breast cancer and reduced the number of hot flashes women experienced each day. But more medical research is needed to assess the longer term effectiveness of these treatments.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Women’s Health