What helps ease hot flashes?

As an OBGYN with Piedmont Physicians in Newnan, Dr. Tia Guster gets asked a lot about what works for hot flashes.

"It's a little bit of trial and error," Dr. Guster says.  "S you have to pack your patience hat on that one."

That's because the triggers are different for each woman, Guster says.

For some, drinking alcohol or caffeine can turn up the heat.  

For others, stress, eating spicy food,  just being in the heat can trigger that sweaty, flushed feeling.  

So, Guster says, start by paying attention to what you're wearing.

"So keep it kind of loose, with flowing maxi-dresses, if you can, at all, wear that as a fashion trend," she says.

And try turning down the temperature at home.

For severe hot flashes, Dr. Guster says, ask your physician whether you're a candidate for hormone replacement therapy, also known as HRT, and what the risks and benefits are.

Your doctor may also prescribe non-hormonal medication to ease your symptoms.

And, Guster says, soy also works for some women.

"Legitimately, soy-based products are helpful, because they act essentially as estrogens in your body," she says. "And we've got those over-the-counter."

Steer clear of soy and soy products if you have a hormone-sensitive condition, like certain breast cancers. Guster says supplements like black cohosh, red clover and evening primrose oil may also help ease your symptoms.

"I think it's worth a try before you go to (prescription) medicine," she says.  "But definitely bring all your stuff in and just have a conversation, like, 'Doc, I use this, and I use this. What do you think about this?'" 

Finally, Guster says, exercise can be a huge help.

"It boosts your endorphins," she says.  "It lowers your weight. It helps with your heart rate and your blood pressure. And all these things are excellent foundations for health."

You don't have to lift weights or run a marathon, Dr. Guster says.

 "Just walk up and down your block for 30 minutes," she recommends.  "It's also mind-clearing, which goes a long way."