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NEW TREATMENT FOR HOT FLUSHES

An article in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology shows that the seizure medicines, Tegretol and Neurontin, can help control the hot flushes that most women suffer at the time of the menopause. The most effective treatment for hot flushes caused by the menopause is estrogen, and most doctors used to recommend estrogen to almost every woman after she reached the menopause. However, over the last two years, three studies have changed doctors' thinking by showing that estrogen given after the menopause increases a woman's risk for breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes. Now most doctors discourage women from taking estrogen after the menopause. This has caused a lot of suffering because at menopause, 65 to 85 percent of women suffer hot flushes, a sudden feeling of heat and then breaking out in a cold sweat.

Hot flushes are caused by a down-setting of the temperature regulating part of the brain. When you have an infection and your temperature rises above 100 degrees, you sweat to cool yourself off and prevent your body temperature from rising too high. When a woman loses estrogen, the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates temperature and sweating, responds to any rise in temperature, even if the rise is only from 96 degrees to 96.3 degrees. This causes increased blood flow to the skin and sweating. So at menopause, a woman sweats with any rise in temperature, not just temperatures above 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

Seizures are caused by an abnormal electrical discharge in the brain that trips off a brain reaction that does not start in a person's thought process. Since hot flushes are caused by a similar type of reaction in the brain, researchers found that medications used to treat seizures can also help control hot flushes. For more on hot flushes see report #1320.

Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, February 2003

Checked 9/5/05

May 12th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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