Hot flushes and how to cope with them

Menopause is the time in a woman's life when her periods stop. As well as no longer having periods, some women start having hot flushes. A hot flush is a sudden feeling of heat in your upper body. It can start in your face, neck or chest, before spreading upwards and downwards. The skin on your face, neck and chest may start to sweat and become red and patchy. You may also feel a change in your heart rate. It may increase or be irregular and stronger than usual (also known as palpitations).

Hot flushes can have a big impact on your quality of life. But there are things that can reduce the number of hot flushes you have, giving you an improved feeling of well-being and quality of life. One of these treatments is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). If you would like to consider using HRT, speak with your family doctor.

Some women try other ways of reducing their hot flushes, such as black cohosh. Black cohosh was traditionally used by Native Americans to treat irregular periods, with many studies suggesting it could be used to treat the symptoms of the menopause. However, a review of 2027 women didn’t find enough evidence to support the use of black cohosh for menopause symptoms.

Some women find other ways of reducing their hot flushes. You could wear light clothing, preferably in cotton, which allows your skin to breathe. This is particularly helpful during hot weather. Sleeping in a cooler room and finding ways of reducing your stress levels can also help. Other women find deep breathing exercises, yoga, acupuncture or Chi-gong have helped to reduce their menopause symptoms.

There are medicines that your doctor can prescribe to help with hot flushes. They include Clonidine, which is thought to work by interfering with a body chemical called noradrenaline. Noradrenaline is involved with the process of flushing and sweating. Alternatively, your doctor may suggest you take Gabapentin, a drug used mainly for epilepsy, to help with your hot flushes.

Alternatively your doctor might suggest you try an antidepressant drug. Although they aren't licensed for treating hot flushes, there are several that may be effective.

These are some suggestions you might find helpful. If you are having hot flushes related to your menopause, it is best to talk with your doctor before starting any treatments.

For more information about hot flushes, the menopause and hormone replacement therapy visit the following pages:

Hormone replacement therapy

Sources used in writing this article are available on request

Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.

Information written by the talkhealth team

Last revised: 2 September 2014
Next review: 2 September 2017