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Menopause: Managing Hot Flashes
A hot flash is a sudden feeling of intense body heat. Your head, neck, and chest may get red. Your heartbeat may speed up, and you may feel anxious. You may find that hot flashes occur more often in warm rooms or during stressful times.
It's common to have hot flashes at some point before or after menopause. Hot flashes happen when estrogen levels drop. You may have few to no hot flashes, or you may have them many times each day.
Hot flashes can be uncomfortable and upsetting. They can lower the quality of your sleep and daily life. But they aren't a sign of a medical problem. They are a normal response to natural changes in your body.
Hot flashes usually get better or go away after the first or second year after menopause. At that point, estrogen levels usually stay at a low level.
You can try lifestyle changes that may help you manage or reduce your hot flashes.
- Avoid using tobacco or drinking a lot of alcohol.
- Manage stress.
- Exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet.
You also can talk to your doctor about treatments that may either reduce or stop your hot flashes. These include taking hormone therapy and certain medicines.
How can you manage hot flashes?
You can manage hot flashes by making certain lifestyle choices. Some measures may help to prevent or reduce hot flashes. Others can make you more comfortable when you're having a hot flash.
- Eat and drink well.
- Limit food and drinks that make your symptoms worse. This may include things like caffeine, alcohol, or spicy foods.
- Drink cold liquids rather than hot ones.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Stay cool.
- Keep your area cool. Use a fan.
- Dress in layers. Then you can remove clothes as needed.
- Wear natural fabrics, such as cotton and silk.
- Sleep with fewer blankets.
- Reduce stress.
- Get regular exercise.
- Use relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises, yoga, or biofeedback.
- Don't smoke or use other forms of tobacco.
There are prescription medicines that can help with hot flashes.
- Hormone therapy (HT) can reduce or stop hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. It replaces the hormones that drop at menopause.
- Estrogen-progestin birth control pills (before menopause) can reduce or stop hot flashes and other symptoms.
- Antidepressant medicine can reduce the number of hot flashes and how bad they are.
- Clonidine may relieve hot flashes.
- Gabapentin may lower the number of hot flashes each day. It also may make hot flashes less severe.
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