You’re young; you get cancer. You get your first cycle of chemotherapy and after the side effects go away, you realize that your periods have stopped. And for a moment you get excited about the thought of getting a break from that monthly rushing river of blood. How long will it last? Is it gone for good? Then BAM! Out of nowhere, you get hot; beads of sweat start to form on your forehead and nose. You feel faint and a little nauseated. Your heart starts beating fast and you get anxious and short of breath. You start to fan and take off layers of clothes trying desperately to cool off. Then, just as quickly as it came on, it goes away and you feel fine again. You think to yourself, what was that? Was that a hot flash?
Yes, you have just experienced your first hot flash or a “personal summer”, as I like to call them. And guess what? That’s just the first of many. Most women do not begin have hot flashes until they go into menopause, which for most women is after the age of 50. But for those younger women who get chemotherapy, or have your ovaries removed surgically, you can be forced into menopause quite early. For many of these women, the hot flashes are much more intense. Each person’s hot flashes a little different. Some people get a little warning aura before the hot flash comes on. Some hot flashes are so bad that the women wish they could have their periods back. So what can you do when you get one?
- Fan yourself – hand held fans, ceiling fans, even a magazine or piece of paper will do.
- Dress in layers, so you can remove a layer of clothing if you need to.
- Drinking a glass of ice water will quickly bring your body temperature down.
- Go into a cool area (in an air conditioned room or outside if it’s a cool day.)
- Put a cool towel or ice on your face.
Here are 10 ways to help minimize the frequency and severity of chemotherapy induced hot flashes.
- Avoid Things that Trigger Hot Flashes
- Warm weather
- Warm rooms
- Hotubs, hot showers and saunas.
- Diet Pills
- Reduce Stress
- Get moving
- Start slow – use a trainer or friend to help get you started & keep you motivated.
- Get the Proper Nutrition
- Avoid Hot foods and drinks
- Avoid Spicy Food.
- Eat small meals 5 to 6 times a day.
- I swear by Vitamin E 800mg daily. Studies show that it is only slightly better no treatment, but I find that it works well.
- Drug Treatments for chemotherapy induced hot flashes – If natural remedies and lifestyle changes don’t work, ask your doctor about one of these medications.
Hot flashes can be very uncomfortable, but they don’t have to ruin your lifestyle. Incorporating these changes into your life will make dealing with your hot flashes much easier
: No matter how old you get, you’ll always be a “hot momma”!