Hot flashes are one of the most common signs of menopause and can cause unintended sweating and discomfort. Occurring without warning, hot flashes can happen at any time during the day and can vary in frequency, length and severity, according to BreastCancer.org, a nonprofit group for women’s health information. Despite the frequency hot flashes, a few treatment options are available.
Cool down. Fighting hot flashes can be as easy as sitting in front of a fan or turning up the air conditioning in a room. If you are prone to hot flash episodes, it may help to dress in layers so you can remove articles of clothing to allow yourself to cool off quicker. Bringing a portable fan or bottle of ice water can also help manage these menopausal symptoms. Avoiding hot environments such as saunas, hot showers and small, unventilated rooms and buildings can also help reduce the onset of hot flashes.
Avoid certain foods. Hot, spicy foods and beverages can bring on a hot flash episode or make the onset worse. Caffeine and alcohol can also have the same effect, so avoid or limit consumption if your hot flashes are severe or frequent. A low-fat diet may help reduce the severity of hot flashes. Losing weight and quitting smoking can also help reduce symptoms.
Hormone replacement therapy. Hormone replacement therapy can help lessen and even eliminate hot flashes. Women take estrogen supplements to replace hormones lost during menopause. Though this is the best treatment for hot flashes, it comes with potential side effects, including increased risk of breast cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke, according to BreastCancer.org. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy before starting treatment.
Other drugs. Certain antidepressants including Paxil and Prozac have been shown to lessen the number or hot flashes in some women, according to the Mayo Clinic. Possible side effects of using antidepressants to treat hot flashes include nausea, dizziness and weight gain, so talk to your doctor about the possible downsides of this type of treatment. Blood pressure medication has also been shown to decrease frequency and severity of hot flashes.