Are there treatments for hot flushes?
Although the available treatments for hot flushes do not cure hot flushes, they do offer relief.
Hot flushes usually fade away eventually without treatment, and no treatment is necessary unless hot flushes are bothersome. A few women have an occasional hot flush forever. There are a number of low-risk coping strategies and lifestyle changes that may be helpful for managing hot flushes.
Natural herbal supplements are good option but if hot flushes remain very disruptive, prescription drug therapy may be considered.
Daily breather may help calm hot flushes
Regular, daily practice of calm or slow breathing is key for this alternative technique to ease hot flushes, shows a new paced breathing study in the NAMS journal Menopause.
Women in this study practised breathing rhythmically, either at a normal pace or slowly, for at least 10 to 15 minutes every day. All of them had fewer and less severe hot flushes, but the ones who had the most relief practised twice a day.
Both of these approaches are like meditation, which is known to calm down the autonomic nervous system. That’s the system that controls body functions such as sweating, heart rate, and dilation of blood vessels, which all ramp up during a hot flush.
You can try the approach that worked best in this study—breathing slowly and regularly at six breaths a minute for 15 minutes twice a day. These short sessions shouldn’t be too hard to work into your busy day.
Tips and tricks to treat your hot flashes
Keeping your body cool can help keep hot flushes at bay. Here are just some of the cool tricks:
- Keep ice water handy to sip. Stay hydrated with cool fluids will turn down the thermostat.
- Use a ceiling fan or air conditioning. Keep a small fan at work
- Dress cool—wear cotton, linen, or rayon, and avoid wool, other synthetic fabrics, and silk.
- Stick to open-necked shirts.
- Dress in layers so you can take something off if you’re feeling warm.
- At night, take a cool shower before bed, wear cotton night clothes or loose fitness clothing designed to wick away moisture, and keep an ice pack under your pillow. Sleep in a cooler room
- Get a bigger bed if you and your partner are on different “heat planets.”
- Reduce intake of caffeine, alcohol, hot drinks and spicy foods. Also, avoid hot flush triggers (eg, spicy food and alcohol)
- Keep a diary of when hot flushes occur and what you’re doing when they occur; this may help identify the ‘triggers’ that cause flushes and help you find ways to avoid them.
- Consider meditation. Practise relaxation therapy to reduces stress
- Consider other lifestyle strategies, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise and not smoking. Follow a diet that is higher in vegetables, fruits and fibre, and lower in meat, sugar and trans fats
- Keep a packet of pre-moistened tissues/towels, such as baby wipes, handy for when hot flushes occur.
What can help manage night sweats?
- Keep cold water by the bed ready to drink at the first sign of a sweat.
- Use cotton sheets and cotton night clothes.
- Sleep under layers, so that extra bed covers can be removed easily.
- Have a small fan running to keep the air moving while sleeping.
- Some women find they can relieve symptoms if they switch to deep, slow abdominal breathing (controlled breathing) at the first sign of a hot flush. Additionally, regular exercise may ease hot flushes and improve sleep.
Some women find it helpful to share their experiences with other women as part of a support group. Meetings can be face-to-face or held over the telephone or internet.
Other Treatment options:
For women who are moderately or severely affected by hot flushes, night sweats and other symptoms of menopause, there are therapies and treatments available, including oestrogen-based hormone therapy (also known as hormone replacement therapy or HRT), non-hormonal prescription medicines and complementary and alternative medicines.
Women troubled by symptoms that may be related to menopause should speak with their health professional to discuss treatment options and management techniques.
Additional information that can help with decision-making includes:
- your personal and family history of menopause and other health issues (eg. heart disease, breast cancer)
- any other medicines you are taking or thinking about taking, including prescription, over-the-counter, natural or herbal medicines.
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