April 20, 2012

Having Hot Flashes?


Hot flashes can be alleviatedAre you warm and sweaty?  Maybe you are experiencing hot flashes (men can get them, too). If you’re suffering from this “malady” of middle-age try some of these hot flash remedies.

study published in Menopause: the Journal of the North American Menopause Society concluded that soy significantly reduces the frequency of severe hot flashes.  The study was actually a meta-analysis where the results of several studies (in this case 19 studies) are pooled and combined and reviewed. A meta-analysis is considered to represent strong evidence for or against something.

Hot flashes are the most common symptom women suffer from during menopause and bad enough that 25% of women seek medical help.  For about 10% to 15% of women hot flashes can be more than a nuisance significantly affecting quality of life.  Hot flashes tend to be more severe for women after surgically induced menopause. Fluctuating hormone levels are at the root of hot flash symptoms.

What other treatments and remedies are there for such flashes?  In addition to soy the following treatments can help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes. As you can see there are more than just pharmacological solutions to managing hot flashes.

Hot Flash Remedies

Hormone replacement therapy: estrogen has been shown to improve hot flashes and the same is true with bio-identical progesterone. Both hormones can be taken either orally or applied in the forms of creams. Hormonal therapies are the most effective forms of treatment for hot flashes.

Relaxation techniques: Yoga, meditation, massage, and warm baths can help. Deep slow breathing can help minimize a hot flash once it starts.

Better sleep:  Melatonin can improve the duration and quality of sleep.  Regular exercise also improves sleep.

Stay cool: Use a fan in the bedroom and dress in layers so that if you do get hot you can easily remove a layer of clothing. Plus, keep the bedroom cool at night.

Avoid triggers: For some women hot flashes are triggered by consumption of certain foods including spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine.

Avoid smoking:  Smoking is linked to increase number of sweats and flashes and more severe hot flashes.  Smoking affects estrogen metabolism.

Black cohosh: Black cohosh is the best studied herb used for menopausal flashes with some studies showing benefit and others no benefit. The combination of black cohosh and St. John’s wort was better in one study than placebo. There may be a link, though, between liver failure and black cohosh.

Cranberry, Dong quai, and Evening primrose oil:  These have all been used in relieving hot flashes, but there isn’t convincing evidence that they are effective.

Prescription Non-hormonal therapies:  All of the following prescribed drugs have been helpful in managing severe hot flashes; transdermal clonidine, venlafaxine, and gabapentin. There are potential side effects to all of these including a loss of libido. These medications are not as effective as hormonal therapies.

So women there is no need to suffer if you suffer from debilitating symptoms of hot flashes.  There are many remedies and therapies to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes you experience.  Oh, yeah.  Men can experience hot flashes too.

See “Low Estrogen Symptoms: Who Wants Them?”, “Herbs for Menopause”, and to enhance sexual function read “Oxytocin: the Love Hormone”.



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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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