Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. Other unpleasant symptoms often coincide with hot flashes, including:. Luckily, there are several treatment options for hot flashes. Your choices range from medications and herbal supplements to lifestyle changes.
Keep reading to learn about remedies you can use to help stay cool.
Traditionally, the most effective treatment for hot flashes has been estrogen supplementation. Estrogen may be taken alone or in combination with progesterone.
Also, estrogen is believed to increase the risk of future health problems, including heart disease, breast cancer, and blood clots.
Soy contains large quantities of phytoestrogens, chemicals that act like estrogen in the body. Soy is particularly high in isoflavones, which bind to estrogen receptors. This can help reduce hot flashes. Soy continues to be studied in terms of menopausal relief. According to the National Institute on Agingresearch is unclear as to whether soy is as effective as, or even safer than, conventional medications.
The amount of isoflavones in supplements is much higher than those occurring naturally in food. Good sources of soy foods are soy milk, tofu, tempeh, and edamame.
Black cohosh is among the most popular herbs for treating hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. The root of the plant is used in capsules and, less commonly, tea. Both forms are found in most health food stores and available online.
Although the exact mechanism of black cohosh is unknown, researchers believe it binds to estrogen receptors or stimulates serotonin receptors. However, there are currently no long-term studies. Minor side effects reported include stomachache and rash. There are reports of liver failure, which is life-threatening, in individuals using black cohosh.
Stress reduction techniques may decrease the frequency of hot flashes. Consider taking some time for:. Some of these techniques also have the benefit of improving sleep quality.
Even taking a few minutes alone to read a book, sing out loud, or simply sit outside can do wonders in terms of relaxation. Even slight increases in your core body temperature can trigger hot flashes. Lower your room temperature by turning down the thermostat, turning on the air conditioner, installing a fan, purchasing a cooling gel pad to lie on, or opening a window. If the temperature of the room is out of your control, dress in layers.
When you start to feel your body temperature rise, you can remove a layer or two to cool your body down. Wear cotton whenever possible, as other fabrics, such as spandex, nylon, and rayon, tend to trap body heat. Certain foods and drinks that naturally increase body temperature can worsen hot flashes.
Spicy foods, caffeinated beverages, high-fat and high-sugar diets, and alcohol have all been implicated in increasing the severity and frequency of hot flashes. Learn what foods and drinks trigger your hot flashes and limit or completely avoid them if you can. Regularly sipping on cool beverages throughout the day may help keep your body temperature down and thereby reduce hot flashes. In fact, smoking may trigger and even increase the severity of hot flashes.