Hot Flashes During Menopause: Care Instructions

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A hot flash is a sudden feeling of intense body heat. Your head, neck, and chest may get red. Your heartbeat may speed up, and you may feel anxious. You may find that hot flashes occur more often in warm rooms or during stressful times. Hot flashes and other symptoms are a normal response to the hormone changes that occur before your menstrual cycle goes away completely (menopause).

Hot flashes often get better and go away with time. Making lifestyle changes or taking medicine may help with symptoms.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If you decide to take medicine to treat hot flashes, take it exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicine your doctor prescribes.
  • Learn to meditate. Sit quietly and focus on your breathing. Try to practice each day. Books, classes, and tapes can help you start a program.
  • Wear natural fabrics, such as cotton and silk. Dress in layers so you can take off clothes as needed.
  • Keep the room temperature cool, or use a fan. You are more likely to have a hot flash when you are too warm than when you are cool.
  • Use fewer blankets when you sleep at night.
  • Drink cold fluids rather than hot ones.
  • Limit food and drinks that make your symptoms worse. This may include things like caffeine, alcohol, or spicy foods.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can make hot flashes worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. Walking is a good choice. You also may want to do other activities, such as running, swimming, cycling, or playing tennis or team sports.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.