Helpful Hot Flash Hints
For those of you who have experienced (naturally occurring or chemo-induced) menopause, you know exactly what I mean when I say that hot flashes absolutely S**K!! Not only do they rock your world in a moments notice with absolutely no warning, but they (at least mine) are all consuming and utterly EMBARRASSING! Well, let me rephrase that: embarrassing may not be the right word because the truth of the matter is that my mind goes blank (as in a wasteland of nothingness during which I am at a complete and total loss of words) when a hot flash comes on. They so overwhelm me that I am without feeling (emotionally, that is) and thoughts so I can’t really be embarrassed.
I remember during one (really big!) speech at a (national!) conference, I was gobsmacked by one. The HOTY (still Husband Of The Year) noticed it coming on – from the very back of the 300 person audience! He said that my neck started getting really red from the shoulders up and then – BAM! – I had the “glow” and “shimmer” that is indicative of a hot flash. I had no idea what I said during that moment (they usually last a moment, which doesn’t sound like a long time, but let me tell you: it feels like an ETERNITY!), but the Silver Lining is that I have had so many since my FBC diagnosis and treatment that I have figured out some ways to cope.
Let me begin by saying that hot flashes vary in intensity for everyone but overall common symptoms include: increased heart rate, tingling sensations in fingers and toes, clammy & sweaty state, and red – as in cherry tomato red – skin, to name a few.
There are common hot flash triggers that can be identified and avoided at all costs:
- Wearing tight clothing
- Eating spicy foods (sorry!)
- Drinking alcohol (sorry!) c
- Consuming excessive amounts of caffeine
- Being in a hot room (DUH)
- Smoking (who does that anymore??) or being exposed to cigarette smoke
When trying to manage your hot flashes, start simple:
- Sip ice water at the start of a hot flash
- Keep a thermos of ice water and an ice pack (if possible) near your bed at night
- Sleep wearing cotton and use cotton linens
- Dress in layers for your day so that when a hot flash hits, you can peel off the layers quickly. Often immediately after a hot flash, I get really cold. So, then I have layers to add back on!
- Keep a frozen wash cloth in your freezer so that you can drape it on your neck to cool you down during the hot flash.
While these tips will not stop hot flashes from occurring.. they will provide some relief!
Some women look for natural remedies (e.g., black cohosh, red clover, dong quai, evening primrose oil, soy, and flaxseed) to help lessen the intensity and frequency of their hot flashes. While none of these natural remedies is scientificly proven to be effective, they may be helpful for you – and some people swear by them. Unfortunately, nothing worked for me. The key is (as always!) consulting with your doctor before use as some of these remedies may interfere with medications.
Other women look to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to reduce intensity and frequency which involves taking estorgren supplements (via pill, cream, gel, or patch) in order to level out the amount of estrogen in a person’s body. As a post-FBC person, I can never use HRT. You see, I need to stay in a post-menopausal state for the rest of my life because estrogen was/is the food that made my cancer grow.
HRT is something to also discuss with your doctor. There are polarizing views on the value, efficacy and safety of HRT. What I will say is that even if I had never had FBC, I would not use HRT. In my opinion, hormone manipulation is a slippery slope.
At the end of the day, as I have said here so many times before it is ALWAYS important to have a healthy lifestyle in order to deal not only with hot flashes, but many other diseases and illnesses. Eating a well-balanced diet, exerrcising regularly, and not smoking will benefit your body just as much (if not more!) as any medication or supplement you take.
Keep in mind that every woman is different and what might work for one woman could not work for another. The Silver Lining is that there are ways to deal with hot flashes… you just have to find what works best for you!