It is helpful to know the probable causes of hot flashes and ways of reducing these unpleasant episodes that some women experience.
The causes of hot flashes
Hot flashes are most common in women going through the menopause, but there can be other causes. These include certain health conditions such as an overactive thyroid or diabetes, or as a result of smoking.
Other reasons could be; eating a lot of spicy food, high caffeine or alcohol intake, side effects of medication, or being under a lot of stress and feeling very anxious.
Relief Seeker can help you to work out the cause of the problem and the best way to deal with it. The website allows you to see a doctor online in 30 minutes. This can be helpful if you’re struggling to get an appointment with your registered doctor.
How to reduce hot flashes
There are several ways to reduce hot flashes, depending on the cause. If they are likely to be because of the menopause, your doctor will be able to have a more detailed discussion with you to confirm this.
If hot flashes are having a severe impact on your day-to-day life, the doctor will talk you through the treatments available. If the menopause is ruled out as being the cause, there are other things you can do.
Try looking at your diet and cutting down if it contains a lot of caffeine or spicy foods. If you’re drinking alcohol regularly, it may be worth reducing your consumption or stopping altogether, to see if that reduces your hot flashes. If you’re a smoker, now might be the time to consider quitting. If nothing else, it will improve your overall health.
If the problem is a side-effect of medication, it could be worth consulting a doctor about alternative medication which may not have the same side-effect. If stress is the cause of the problem, dealing with this could be a more complex process.
What works for one person, may not work for another. However, making sure you take care of yourself can go a long way to reduce stress, while reducing hot flashes at the same time if the two are linked.
Meditation is a good way to ease the mind. Spending time on a hobby or taking time to exercise can help, as can talking to someone, and again, looking at ways to improve your diet.
Hot flashes can also be a sign of low blood sugar in diabetics. So ensuring you follow your doctor’s guidelines on controlling your blood sugar could help to reduce flashes.
There are some simple things you can do to help bring down your body temperature. Keeping cold water in the fridge and adding an ice cube or two before drinking, can be a quick and easy way to cool the body down.
Investing in a fan and swapping your regular pillow for a cooling pillow are also great ways to help.
Why it’s important to talk to a doctor
While it may be possible to figure out the cause yourself and to try the suggested ways to reduce them, talking to a doctor is always recommended.
The above suggestions are quite general. Specific information on medication, diet and lifestyle need to be tailored to the individual. For example: if your medication is causing flashes as a side effect but is otherwise effective in treating the condition it was prescribed for, changing medication could cause more problems than it solves.
What treatments are available?
As the menopause is a common cause of flashes, it makes sense to discuss it here. If your hot flashes are particularly problematic and you’ve tried other methods to reduce them, there are other treatments you can consider.
Hormone replacement therapy is a possible treatment for someone going through the menopause and struggling with life-intrusive hot flashes. Combined HRT is suitable for women who still have their womb, while estrogen-only HRT is more suited to women that have had a hysterectomy.
HRT has its own risks though, so it should therefore be considered very carefully after trying other options and talking to a doctor. This way, the risks and benefits can be assessed, allowing both you and the doctor to decide on the best course of action.
This treatment is available as tablets, patches, implants or in a gel which is rubbed into the skin. In addition to treating hot flashes, it can also alleviate other symptoms of menopause, such as abnormal bleeding and headaches.
Whatever you choose to do, always make sure you consider an expert opinion.