What to do for hot flashes?

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Question from Farida: I am a breast cancer stage III patient on Herceptin therapy after mastectomy and chemotherapy. I wake up many times at night. During the night I am struggling with my body temperature. I feel cold and warm intermittently. When I use a blanket because I am cold, the next moment I am warm. This is going on all night and keeps me awake. What can I do for it?
Answers - Helena Schotland I think it's better to wear some light pajamas or a nightgown, something that can breathe, such as cotton. You don't want to smother yourself when you have a hot flash in the middle of the night; you want to be able to throw off the covers quickly. So I would probably use the lightest bed clothing I could get away with, rather than having a heavy down comforter wrapped in a heavy duvet (which is what I had when I had my hot flash last night!). Different layers of covers and clothing, and a change of clothing next to your bed.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. There are medications that can help minimize the symptom or make it more tolerable, such as Effexor (chemical name: venlafaxine) or Paxil (chemical name: paroxetine), etc. These need to be prescribed by your doctor. There's good information at the website. See our section on hot flashes at Breastcancer.org for more information.

Editor’s Note: Paxil (chemical name: paroxetine) and other antidepressants, including Wellbutrin (chemical name: bupropion), Prozac (chemical name: fluoxetine), Cymbalta (chemical name: duloxetine), and Zoloft (chemical name: sertraline), are known to interfere with tamoxifen. If you are taking tamoxifen and considering taking antidepressants for hot flashes, talk to your doctor about which ones are safe to take with tamoxifen. For more information, please visit the Breastcancer.org Tamoxifen page.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Sleep Well: Healthy Habits for Good Rest featured Helena Schotland, M.D. and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about ways to improve your sleep.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in January 2007.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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