A hot flash is a sudden sensation of heat caused by fluctuating estrogen levels, and is most commonly associated with menopause. This overwhelming warmth is very uncomfortable, and the sweating it causes can even become embarrassing at times. While menopause itself is ultimately inevitable, there are many menopausal treatment options available to combat this particularly distracting side effect.
Consuming lots of caffeine and spicy foods may in fact worsen your hot flashes. Instead, you may want to consume foods that are high in plant estrogen (phytoestrogen) to help offset any hormonal imbalances within your body. Some examples of phytoestrogen-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains. Others have reported relief through chaste berries and wild yams, though this has not been clinically proven.
Some claim to have found relief through acupuncture, while others seek herbal remedies like primrose oil or black cohosh, though these routes have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). One study found Vitamin E could reduce heat flashes, but it was not at a much higher rate than the control group, who were given placebos.
Exercising daily, eliminating any alcoholic intake, and deep-breathing exercises can all help reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. Smoking can lead to an increase in hot flashes, too, so it’s best to eliminate this habit if possible. Even practical solutions at home such as taking a cold shower, or lowering your thermostat, may provide temporary relief.
Bioidentical hormones are modified hormones that act the same as natural hormones found within your body. These types of hormones are created by altering the estrogen found in plants so they can be utilized by the human system without rejection. They are not the same as synthetic hormones, which are created in a laboratory without the help of a biological organism.
Bioidentical hormones are available as lotions, pills, and gels. For a list of what brands of bioidentical hormones are available after FDA approval, check out this Harvard study.
A doctor may be able to prescribe medicines to relieve your hot flashes, though these may come with unwanted side effects and potential consequences of their own. The type of medicine your doctor will offer can range from antiepileptics to antidepressants.