Hot flashes, also called hot flushes or night sweats (if they occur at night) are a symptom of menopause. Fluctuating hormone levels cause women to feel hot and sweaty and cause a rapid heartbeat that might last two to 30 minutes during each episode. Hot flashes can happen several times a day a few times a week. Fortunately, cures for hot flashes and night sweats are available.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hot flashes and night sweats can be cured with hormone replacement therapy, either synthetic or natural. Synthetic hormones can be prescribed to increase oestrogen levels since higher oestrogen levels correspond with fewer hot flashes. Natural hormones come in the form of bioidentical hormone replacements. These natural hormones come from plants and are the same as human hormones. They are available as a cream without a prescription. Both synthetic and natural hormone replacement therapy are used often by women who experience menopause suddenly due to a hysterectomy.
Hot flashes and night sweats can be alleviated with a soy diet. Soy products help to create an oestrogen-like effect that prevents hot flashes from occurring. According to Barry Goldin, Ph.D., associate professor and biochemist at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, only nine to 10 per cent of Japanese women suffer from hot flashes, compared to 50 per cent of U.S. and European women. Goldin says this is because Japanese women eat more soy in their diets, and soy contains natural oestrogen that relieves hot flashes. The downside to soy is that it is associated with breast cancer in women who have high oestrogen levels and low progesterone levels. Women should talk to a doctor before adding soy to their diet to treat hot flashes.
Lower Heart Disease Risks
Hot flashes and night sweats can be alleviated in women when the risks for heart disease are lowered as well. Some risks for heart disease are smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Women who quit smoking, eat a low-fat diet, lose weight, exercise and keep cholesterol and blood pressure under control are not usually bothered by hot flashes. Women who eliminate alcohol and caffeine from their diets also experience fewer hot flashes. Both of these chemical stimulants raise heart rate and blood pressure, which are apt to produce hot flashes.
Hot flashes and night sweats can be cured with oestrogen creams as increased oestrogen levels always help. However, just like soy products, when oestrogen levels are increased without increasing progesterone, there is a greater incidence of breast cancer as well as stroke, blood clots and heart disease. Seek a doctor's advice before using oestrogen creams to treat symptoms of menopause.
Women who practice breathing exercises---learning to take slow, deep breaths---cut their hot flashes and night sweats in half. Some yoga instructors will provide techniques for deep-breathing exercises. Also try wearing cotton clothing, which will not cling to skin like many other fabrics, and layer clothing so that it is easy to remove during a hot flash.