Hot flashes are a sudden feeling of heat that may occur during menopause. While there is no certain cause associated with these sensations, medical professionals suggest changes in blood circulation may trigger these sudden flashes. Often these flashes are accompanied by flushing in the face followed by sweating. Some women also experience chills or rapid heart rate during an episode. The condition is not predominant, but only about 2 in 10 women don’t experience these episodes. It is quite a common symptom of menopause.
There is no cure for the condition, and the best way to manage hot flashes associated with menopause is by taking preventive measures. There are simple lifestyle changes you can make to manage the symptoms of hot flashes. These include:
- Layered clothing
When experiencing hot flashes, it is advisable to wear multiple layers so that they can be removed instantaneously. So, when the symptoms develop, you can adjust your layers accordingly and help bring down the body temperature. Do not let heat trap in the clothing, as it can worsen the symptoms.
- Portable fan
Make room for a portable fan in your purse or handbag and always carry one while going outdoors. A portable fan will help cool your flushed face, especially when the temperature is beyond tolerable.
- Change a few habits
Avoid spicy foods and also beverages that are rich in caffeine. It is a good idea to refrain from having alcohol in case the symptoms persist. You should also avoid smoking. During the menopausal transition, incorporate healthy eating and drinking habits to reduce the risk of frequent hot flashes.
- Maintain a healthy weight
Research shows that obesity or being overweight increases the chance of hot flashes during menopause. Bodyweight directly affects hormonal changes, and menopause triggers a lot of them, so staying active is crucial. Follow an exercise routine and eat well to maintain a healthy BMI naturally.
Medications for managing hot flashes
Lifestyle changes may or may not work; it depends on the severity of the condition. But there are certain hormonal and non-hormonal medications that doctors prescribe for hot flashes.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the use of low dose Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants to manage the symptoms. Doctors may recommend one of the many antidepressants available commercially. However, a written prescription is required, as these medications are not purchased over the counter.
Alternatively, doctors may suggest hormone therapy to manage the condition. After a certain age, the ovaries produce reduced amounts of vital hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. Hormone therapy replenishes the levels in the body and is an effective measure against hot flashes. Note that there are side effects associated with hormone-based medications. It is one of the main reasons why doctors do a full workup before recommending a course of treatment.