Those of you who have had to deal with menopause or peri-menopause probably have had the experience known as hot flashes , or "your own personal sauna" as some women refer to it. What can you do about hot flashes other than suffer through them?
First, let’s talk about what causes hot flashes. We actually don’t know what causes them for sure, some people feel that it is due to low levels of estrogen. But since they tend to happen more during peri-menopause which is a time of extreme hormonal fluctuation, we could also assume that they are somehow caused by the hormonal ups and downs, specifically estrogen.
So one of the first choices for treating hot flashes are just some simple lifestyle changes you can adapt to help you get through the period of symptoms. Try to identify your triggers that may be connected to your hot flashes, like drinking a hot beverage or being in situations that stress you out. Some women find that staying away from coffee or other beverages that contain caffeine can help lessen the occurrence of hot flashes. Avoiding alcohol and spicy foods can
help too. Dressing in layers can help too in addition to lowering the room temperature and having a small fan handy. Adding more soy protein to your diet may help, but you may want with your doctor before making dietary changes. There are some questions about the affect of soy protein on women who are at high risk for breast cancer.
The second choice is alternative treatments, which include the use of supplements and vitamins and herbs. Acupuncture is an alternative treatment which has been shown to be helpful in treating hot flashes. Vitamins E has been used for years but there has yet to be any data that shows that there is a proven benefit for using it, again because of the breast cancer issue. Bioflavinoids can provide some of the benefits of estrogen and those can be taken with vitamin C. One of the herbs that has been proven to help hot flashes is Black Cohosh. It is available in a product called RemFemin. There are no studies that prove that homeopathic remedies can help relieve symptoms, but they are not shown to cause any harm either, Lachesis, Pulsatilla, Amyl Nitricum and Belladonna are some of the homeopathic remedies that people use to treat hot flashes.
The third option is using drugs. There are non-hormonal drugs and hormonal drugs that can be used to alleviate the symptoms of hot flashes. Some of the drugs that do not contain hormones include Bellergal (belladonna alkaloids, ergotamine and phenobarbital), clonidine, lofexidene and some or the SSRIs like Effexor, Paxil and Prozac. The other drug option is to take hormonal supplements. If your hot flashes are unbearable and you are not at risk for breast cancer or a breast cancer survivor, estrogen is probably going to be your best choice especially for short term use. Sometimes doctors will prescribe birth control pills as treatment when a woman is experiencing hot flashes and still having a period.
Using one or a combination of many of these techniques or treatments should bring you some relief from the annoyance of hot flashes. Just remember that most of the time hot flashes and night sweats are temporary while your body is going through the period of hormonal fluctuations that occur during peri-menopause and should subside once you officially hit menopause.
Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Menopause
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