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Causes of Hot Flashes and Night Sweats and what to do about them

I don’t know why they call them hot flashes. They last longer than what you’d think a flash would last. When it comes to menopause and hot flashes, I’ve been there, done that, and bought the t-shirts.

Hot flashes are more than just a feeling of being too warm. You can feel them in your ears, you can hear the “whoosh” of blood rushing through your brain, and sometimes you can perspire to the point of literally dripping – reminding me of those NBA players you see standing at the free throw line wiping the droplets of sweat from their chin or their brow.

There are as many suggested “remedies” for hot flashes as there are hot flashes a woman experiences through the menopause process.

There are some that believe that Vitamin E helps with the dilation of blood vessels. This seems to be partially true, in that it may help with MILD hot flashes – that is, if “mild” hot flashes actually exist. Experts agree that in order for vitamin E to be truly effective, it must be taken with foods that contain fat. Additionally, the standard “cheap” vitamin E that anyone can pick up at the local store, which is a synthetic form of vitamin E. These synthetic forms are less effective and, for the most part, a huge waste of money unless you want to pop the capsule and use the contents on a patch of dry skin. The form of vitamin E that proves to most effective are the “mixed tocopherols.” I busted the buck and bought the latter type and found enough relief to continue taking them, regardless of the cost.

There are some herbs that are suggested to help with the hot flashes, as well. Black cohosh, motherwort, common chickweed, elder flower and violets are among the suggested herbal supplements to thwart hot flashes. However, personally, I wouldn’t take any supplement that is not approved by the FDA or at least managed, in some part, by a responsible watchdog agency that ensres the safety of the supplement. Vitamins and herbs are considered diet supplements and, as such, are not required to have FDA approval – this is why there are so many bogus weight loss products on the market.

Avoidance of alcohol and caffeine is also one of the kindest things a woman can do to herself if she wants to avoid hot flashes.

A colleague of mine undergoes accupuncture every other week for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms and swears by the treatment.

Finally, HRT (hormone replacement therapy) is often recommended by gynecologists as a way to treat the symptoms of menopause. However, hormone replacement has been found to cause liver disease, coronary artery disease, blood clots, endometrial cancer, migraines, breast cancer, fibroids, and gall bladder disease, to name a few.

Finally, some studies have shown that a good program of exercise and proper nutrition through the menopause process have helped some women with their hot flashes.

What is important is for every woman to research all the treatment modalities, and make an informed decision. What works for some won’t work for all and, in the end, patience and trial and error will be the best personal attributes to go with the decision-making process.