Dr. Jennifer Neville explains what hot flashes and night sweats are and how these symptoms can be treated.
What are hot flashes?
As our hormones are changing, women start having hot flashes. It’s really just a whole body flushing. Sometimes they notice it more on the upper half of their body but just pouring down sweat. If you’re wearing glasses, sometimes the glasses can fog up. For some women, they’re pretty mild, and no one else would know that they’re having them. They’re very few and far between. Other women are having multiple hot flashes a day. It’s affecting their work and their sleep. They’re just very, very uncomfortable. So, there’s kind of a wide variety, and women go through the process differently.
What can help alleviate hot flashes?
Usually dressing in layers. I know that sounds very simple, but wearing something that’s layered. So when they’re having a hot flush, they can peel off some layers until it stops, and then they can put them back on.
What are night sweats?
Night sweats can happen with menopause, and you hear women say, “I have to get all the covers off,” and then they’re cold so then they’ve got to put them back on. This happens all night, so they’re not getting very good rest and that really affects how we function during the day.
How can you treat hot flashes and night sweats?
We used to give women hormone replacement therapy, and it came out that that was not good for us because of cancers and heart attacks. In very rare instances if someone is just absolutely miserable, we can do hormone replacement therapy in small doses for a short amount of time. But there are some other medications out now that can help to prevent hot flashes. Paroxetine at very low doses at bedtime can actually help with hot flashes. There are some other medicines that we used to use for depression, but now we use them in very low doses to help with hot flashes and night sweats.
Find out more about Dr. Neville’s internal medicine practice.
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