Hot flashes are a sudden feeling of heat in the body, which is commonly experienced by women and men, due to hormonal changes. Hot flashes often result in red, flushed face, feeling of warmth and sweating, which may last for few seconds to minutes and may reappear after some time. Hot flashes are a common occurring in women approaching menopause, possibly due to decrease in estrogen production. It may also be seen in men who have undergone treatment or certain procedures that affect their testosterone production.
Hot flashes can be managed by medical management, lifestyle management and home remedies. Changes in diet and exercises can help to ease the undesirable symptoms associated with hot flashes and can help to deal with the condition better.
How Long Do Hot Flashes Last?
Hot flashes are commonly seen during hormonal imbalances, like during menopause in women or during other hormone related issues in men. Hot flashes appear in episodes, when the person may feel unusually hot, as if a warm feeling or heat is present in the body, sometimes associated with redness and sweating. Night sweats and sudden feeling of anxiety may also be experienced by some. This is a typical episode of hot flashes, which usually lasts for few minutes and fades away within few hours. Such episodes may repeat over time and keep bothering the person until some measures are taken to stop hot flashes.
In most people, hot flashes can last for few months to 2 years on an average. While hot flashes commonly begin sometime before menopause and can last for months to years in most women, in some cases hot flashes can even last for many years. The duration of hot flashes and the frequency of episodes is difficult to predict, as it often varies from person to person. However, in most cases, episodes of hot flashes may last for few minutes to hours, followed by periods of normal feeling. The episode of hot flashes may reappear, to continue in similar pattern and the whole process may last for few months to years, depending on the person.
How to Stop Hot Flashes?
The main treatment options to stop hot flashes include:
Medical Management to Stop Hot Flashes:
Medical management for hot flashes often includes use of prescription medicines under medical supervision. The physician may prescribe certain drugs or combinations that can help to maintain hormone levels, reduce symptoms of hot flashes, feeling of warmth, sweating and other complaints. These medicines include
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to Stop Hot Flashes:– In women, the commonest treatment includes estrogen supplementation, which is given to replace the estrogen that decreases due to menopause or removal of uterus (hysterectomy), which may be performed in some women having gynecological concerns. In cases of natural menopause or in women who have undergone hysterectomy, the level of estrogen is diminished, which can contribute to hot flashes, hence replacing them with estrogen supplementation is necessary. Estrogen may not be recommended for women experiencing certain conditions or having history of blood clots, blood cancer. The decision of taking estrogen only medications or estrogen and progesterone combination depends on the type of menopause, age and other health conditions of women. Hence, it is best to consult the physician and follow medical advice for hormone replacement therapy for hot flashes.
- Anti-depressants – Low doses of anti-depressant drugs may be given to ease certain symptoms of menopause and hot flashes.
- Certain medicines used to lower blood pressure may also be used to treat hot flashes in some women.
- Some antiepileptic drugs like gabapentin may be given to stop hot flashes, if found appropriate in some cases.
- Other specialized drug preparations like a paroxetine formula or a conjugated estrogen formula may be given to stop hot flashes.
- Other than prescription drugs, certain supplements may be found helpful in treating hot flashes and may be considered by the physician. These include, vitamin supplements like B-complex, vitamin E and mineral supplements like calcium and iron.
- Medicines that help to control pain or discomfort associated with hot flashes may be prescribed in some cases, which include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.
Lifestyle Management to Stop Hot Flashes
Making alterations in lifestyle can help to control hot flashes. It is important to understand the complaints that are bothersome and undesirable. The trigger factors should be known and best avoided. Taking the necessary precautions and slight modifications in lifestyle can help to put ease to the complaints of hot flashes to some extent.
Know the triggers and understand the trend of hot flashes, which may differ from person to person. Hot flashes are often triggered by tight clothing, heated environment, hot weather, eating certain foods like spices, sugars, high fatty foods, alcohol, smoking, etc.
Wearing loose, light clothing can help to keep the body temperature normal and prevent from overheating. The cloth fabric too plays an important role; cotton wears are better as they help to remain cool, while other material often trap heat causing more warmth. Particularly in summer, it necessary to control getting heated. It can help to control excessive sweating and feeling of warmth in the body. Similarly, maintaining room temperature, avoiding exposure to sun, overheated rooms or places is important. Using an air conditioner, fan or opening doors and windows must be considered as appropriate to maintain lower room temperature. Lightly warm showers can help to relax, but care must be taken to avoid hot showers, warm tub baths, saunas, which can overheat.
Managing Stress Can Help Stop Hot Flashes
Managing stress is just as important as anything else, in lifestyle management. It is necessary to find ways that help to reduce stress, keep the mind calm and body fit, while staying away from worries. Increased periods of stress can cause more hot flashes and being able to manage stress can help to decrease the complaints of hot flashes. While stress can not only contribute to excessive feeling of warmth and sweating, it can also affect other internal organs and hormone levels, which can cause disturbance and add to the problems of hot flashes.
Stress management can be achieved by involving in regular exercises, daily morning and evening walks, yoga or tai chi sessions. Other forms of relaxation like meditation, progressive relaxation, breathing exercises or pranayama, guided imagery or creative visualization and similar other relaxation techniques must be performed under the guidance of an expert. Participating in creative interests, reading, artistic activities and hobbies or listening to music, can also help to refresh the mind and help to reduce stress. Keeping the mind free from worries and stress free can help to manage the symptoms of hot flashes. If work stress adds to the problems, it may be worth considering taking a break and relaxing for few days.
Maintaining Emotional Balance Can Help Stop Hot Flashes
Stress and other changes in health often cause more emotional turmoil. Coping with emotional symptoms is equally important to maintain good health and relieve hot flashes. Find ways to manage stressful situations and maintain calm, avoiding medicines as much as possible. Practice relaxation to get good sleep and reduce insomnia, rather than relying on sleep or pain medications. Find ways that help your mind and soul relax, maintain good relations and be open about emotions instead of suppressing feelings. Avoid intake of medicines and habit forming substances to induce sleep or reduce stress. Managing stress and maintaining emotional balance can help to improve sleep, reduce anxiety, minimize depressive feelings and improve the overall capacity to deal with stress and hot flashes.
Manage Weight to Reduce Symptoms of Hot Flashes
Losing weight can help to reduce symptoms of hot flashes. Maintaining a healthy weight can help to ease symptoms of excessive warmth, sweating, hormonal imbalances and other health problems. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and managing stress can help to maintain healthy weight and remain fit.
Diet and Nutrition Can Play an Important Role in Managing and Stopping Hot Flashes
Paying attention to the foods and drinks is equally very important. It is important to avoid foods that trigger hot flashes, which is most likely spicy, oily, fatty or heavily seasoned foods, caffeinated drinks, excess tea, coffee or hot drinks, alcohol, smoking or tobacco, sugary drinks or foods. Avoid smoking or tobacco consumption and limit intake of alcohol
Diet and nutrition plays an important role in helping to manage hot flashes. Healthy eating and living is the key to deal with hot flashes. Drinking plenty of water, healthy drinks, fruits or sipping on ice can help to keep the body temperature under control and prevent overheating or hot flashes. Drinking coconut water or buttermilk can help to soothe the body and the mind. Some foods that have been considered useful to fight against hot flashes must be considered and included in the regular diet.
Protein rich foods help to regulate the balance of hormones and improve emotional and physical health. Healthy foods, which are rich in protein can help to deal with hot flashes and prove beneficial for overall health. As proteins are required for the synthesis of hormones and other essential fighters in the body, intake of high quality proteins can help.
Some foods that can help include:
- Soy products – Soy is a rich source of protein and can be best taken in any form, found convenient. Soy and soy products contain phytoestrogens, which are estrogen like chemicals, which give a boost similar to that of estrogens in the body. The isoflavones in soy products. Soy milk, soy smoothies and soy nuts, can be consumed, care should be taken to check the labels to avoid food allergies and intake of other undesirable preservatives. Soy paneer or tofu or soya chunks can be added to rice or curry preparations. Soy can also be used to prepare homemade dips, sauces or seasonings of choice.
- Fruits and vegetables – Fresh fruits and vegetables help to fight with hormonal changes, hot flashes and can help to manage other nutrition depletion issues. Include vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, celery sticks, sprouts and other green vegetables, which can help to maintain health and keep undesirable symptoms at bay.
- Wholesome foods like whole grains, multi-grain bread, rice and pasta, etc. can help to remain healthy. Omega-3-fatty acid can help to fight other illnesses as well, so a regular intake of fatty fish, olive oil can give a healthy boost in addition to helping to manage hot flashes.
Home Remedies to Stop Hot Flashes
Some herbs and home remedies are considered effective in the management of hot flashes and can be used by women, if found appropriate. These home remedies include:
- Black Cohosh – Black Cohosh is a plant, the root of which is used for its medicinal properties. It is a popular remedy used for treating hot flashes and other problems during menopause. It is also popularly used in preparation of alternative medicines, homeopathic medicines and is prescribed for women related health problems. Some studies have shown that this home remedy is useful in managing excessive sweating and complaints of hot flashes. Black Cohosh may not be recommended in some women and pregnant ladies; hence it is advisable to seek medical opinion before using black cohosh as a home remedy to stop hot flashes.
- Licorice root – This is a root, commonly used for treating respiratory troubles and is also useful in treating female disorders. It can be a helpful home remedy in managing complaints of hot flashes as it contains precursors of estrogen, which can provide properties of estrogen and relieve some symptoms of menopause. Use of licorice root may be associated with some concerns in some women, particularly those with high blood pressure and water retention, hence it is best taken with medical advice.
- Flaxseeds as a Home Remedy to Stop Hot Flashes – Healthy fats are essential during menopause. Flaxseeds contain substances like phytoestrogens, called lignans, which are plant derivatives having properties similar to estrogen and can relieve complaints during menopause. Fatty acids present in flaxseeds and flaxseed oil can be useful in managing hot flashes during menopause. It can also help to improve symptoms of excessive sweating, chills, joint pains and mood swings.
- Herbs like chickweed are known to help to reduce symptoms of hot flashes in some women. Other herbs like chasteberry, daminana, wild yams, sarsaparilla, spearmint, red raspberry leaf, dong quai and motherwort can be useful in managing hot flashes during menopause. Most of these herbs have properties that enable maintaining hormone regulation; most provide estrogenic effect on the body and help to relieve symptoms of menopause and hot flashes. In addition, some herbs also help to relieve insomnia, reduce stress and anxiety and soothe the nerves.
Alternative Therapies to Stop Hot Flashes
Apart from home remedies, hot flashes can also be managed with alternative therapies like:
- Essential Oils for Managing Hot Flashes – Aromatherapy and use of essential oils have been useful in relieving symptoms of female related problems and particularly useful in improving mood and reducing stress. Essential oils like thyme, basil, chamomile, etc. can be of special help in relieving symptoms of hot flashes, complaints during menopause and ease other symptoms of mood swings, insomnia and anxiety too. Evening Primrose oil is also beneficial to improve hot flashes in some cases. Essential oils can be used in baths, foot massage or can be used by mixing in massage oils or lotions. They can also be used for inhalation in room fresheners or can be placed on a tissue to inhale at the time of episode of hot flashes.
- Homeopathic Remedies for Hot Flashes – Homeopathic remedies can work wonders when it comes to treating menopausal complaints and hot flashes; however, the remedies need to be taken from a trained and qualified expert after proper case taking. Some of the common homeopathic remedies useful in treating hot flashes include Actea Racemosa, Belladonna, Ferrum Phos, Lachesis, Pulsatilla, Sepia, Silicea, Valeriana.
- Acupressure – Acupressure and acupuncture healing is also useful in treating menopausal complaints and reducing hot flashes. Certain therapeutic points when treated carefully can help to deal with various problems and those aimed at treating menopause include specific points that provide relief from hot flashes, excessive sweating, irritability and stress.