Skip to content

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Fever, Sweats, and Hot Flashes (PDQ®): Supportive care - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Sweats and Hot Flashes


Behavioral methods

Behavioral interventions as a primary or adjunctive modality may also play a role in hot flash management. Core body temperature has been shown to increase before a hot flash;[54] therefore, interventions to keep body temperature down could improve hot flash management. Some methods of controlling body temperature include the use of loose-fitting cotton clothing as well as the use of fans and open windows to keep air moving. Based on the theory that serotonin may be involved as a central hot flash trigger, behavioral interventions such as stress management may modulate serotonin, causing a decrease in hot flashes. Relaxation training and slow, deep breathing [55,56] have been found to decrease hot flash intensity by as much as 40% to 50% in controlled pilot trials. More research with well-designed control arms is needed to further clarify the main effect of such behavioral treatments as well as the additive and synergistic effects with other treatments. One pilot study also found that self-hypnosis, utilizing cooling suggestions, reduced hot flash scores an average of 68%.[57][Level of evidence: I] Self-hypnosis is being studied further in larger controlled trials as well as in combination with low-dose antidepressants.

Future research on hot flash management may be aided by the development of psychometrically sound assessment tools such as the Hot Flash Related Daily Interference Scale, which evaluates the impact of hot flashes on a wide variety of daily activities.[58]

Integrative approaches

Herbs/dietary supplements

Numerous herbs and dietary supplements are popularly used for hot flash reduction. Several of these substances have not been well studied in rigorous clinical trials. Furthermore, the biologic activity of various over-the-counter supplements has yet to be determined and is far from standardized. Some of the more well-studied agents include soy phytoestrogen, black cohosh, and vitamin E.

Vitamin E, 400 IU twice a day, appears to confer a modest reduction in hot flashes that is only slightly better than that seen with placebo. The reduction in hot flashes is roughly 35% to 40%.[59,60][Level of evidence: I]

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Real Cancer Perspectives
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas