Friday, August 1, 2008

Is There A Safe And Effective Cure For Hot Flashes?

Author: Linda Bruton

If you're a woman and you're in menopause, then it almost goes without saying that you've suffered from hot flashes at one time or another. Hot flashes affect 75-85% of all women in menopause to varying degrees. It is not completely understood exactly what causes them, but most agree that it is due to hormonal imbalances caused by changes in the level of estrogen. Because they can be so uncomfortable and disruptive, most women are searching for a safe cure for hot flashes.

Some of the earliest symptoms of menopause are hot flashes, abnormal menstrual bleeding, and mood swings. Hot flashes and night sweats often result in sleep problems and insomnia, which can lead to anxiety and depression. Women in menopause quite often also experience heart palpitations, vaginal dryness, weight gain, loss of libido, and urinary changes. Some women float through menopause with few symptoms, but for most of us it's a different story. Is it any wonder that searching for a safe and effective cure for hot flashes can be such a priority?

Since the imbalance is caused by falling estrogen levels, it makes sense that estrogen itself is the most effective treatment for hot flashes. That's why for so many years Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT) – also known as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – has been the primary cure for hot flashes. In fact, it generally results in an 80 to 90% reduction in hot flashes and other symptoms.

The peak age for hot flashes is the early 50's, but many women start getting them in their 40's. There is also a growing number of women who have undergone breast cancer treatment who suffer from hot flashes as well. Estrogen is the most prescribed medication to cure hot flashes, often as a pill or a skin patch. Generally, the amount of estrogen it takes to reduce hot flashes and other symptoms is less than the amount needed for normal menstrual periods. In recent years, doctors have prescribed much lower dosages than in the past.

Unfortunately, very recent studies have made it very clear that hormone replacement can increase the risk of breast cancer, uterine cancer, and strokes. That means the hot flash cure can be worse then just coping with the symptoms. This has led increasing numbers of women to search for a more natural cure for hot flashes.

Breast cancer survivors don't even have the option of using estrogen as a cure for hot flashes. The concern is that taking estrogen would cause the reappearance and further growth of breast cancer cells. Hot flashes then become a routine occurence in women undergoing breast cancer treatment. Many of these women have severe hot flashes.

Fortunately, there are natural remedies and strategies that can lessen the effects of hot flashes and other symptoms. Many women have turned to herbal remedies that include black cohosh, soy, and vitamin E. They have found these natural remedies to be an effective part of their search of a cure for hot flashes. Lifestyle and dietary changes also play a part. Foods and beverages that often increase hot flashes are alcohol, caffeine, and hot, spicy foods. Removing them from the diet can improve your symptoms. Increasing physical activity will also help.

In summary, hot flashes are the most common symptom faced by women going through menopause. They are caused by changing levels of hormones, especially of estrogen. Hormone Replacement Therapy is still the most prescribed cure for hot flashes. However, women are increasingly investigating natural remedies due to the increase in breast cancer, uterine cancer, and stroke risk associated with HRT. Fortunately, they don't last forever. For most women, they will decrease in intensity and frequency. It's only a matter of time.

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