Should I See My Doctor for Hot Flashes?

Should I see my doctor for hotflashes?

Question:
Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D.
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Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D.

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Hot flashes are among the most frequently reported – and troublesome – symptom of perimenopause, the transition to the absence of periods for one year (menopause). Declining estrogen levels trigger hot flashes in most women, although the frequency and severity can vary. It sounds like your hot flashes are starting to interfere with your quality of life. You don’t mention whether you are having hot flashes at night, and whether they are interrupting your sleep. If so, this is more than just the daytime discomfort, as sleep patterns impact on both biological and behavioral activities. Following a healthy lifestyle is always the best first step. You may want to consider eliminating foods that might trigger a hot flash, such as alcoholic beverages or caffeinated drinks. Dressing in lightweight layers can also help.

For many women, this is not enough, and it is important to talk to your doctor. There are several prescription medications that can help with severe hot flashes. Depending on your personal medical history, short-term estrogen replacement or the antidepressant Effexor are two evidence-based medical options for severe hot flashes. Steer clear of dietary supplements promising quick relief. While one or more of the compounds contained within these kinds of products might provide biological support for hot flashes, none of these are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This means there is no guarantee of purity, safety or efficacy.

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