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FDA approves non-hormonal medication to treat hot flashes caused by menopause

Hot flashes are often a part of the transition phase of menopause.

HOUSTON — Menopause can creep up on you quickly, but there’s usually a warning sign women don’t like -- hot flashes. 

Maria Lee said the first time she ever experienced menopause, she thought she was going to die. 

"I was about to give a presentation to some new physicians, and I started sweating," she said. "I started thinking, 'Am I really this nervous?'”

She wasn't that nervous. She was experiencing her first hot flash.

“They’re very unpredictable," Lee said. "They last a long time for me. Well, it feels like hours, but it’s maybe 10-15 minutes.”

Lee is going through menopause and for many like Lee, menopause is accompanied by hot flashes. She’s been having them for two years now.

“It’s very disruptive," Lee said. "But really does try to disrupt my life, but I’m not allowing it.”

Hot flashes can make a woman feel like her face is on fire. It can last for several minutes and occur several times a day. It can even disrupt a woman’s sleep. That’s known as night sweats.

Hope is on the horizon thanks to a new drug called VEOZAH approved by the FDA in May.

“Many women are not able to take hormones to treat their hot flashes, and now we have a medication that is a neurokinin receptor antagonist that will block the hot flashes, and it’s not hormonal," said Dr. Sandra Hurtado, a gynecologist at UT Physicians.

She said this new drug is now available as an alternative to help treat hot flashes in patients who can’t take hormone-based therapies.

“They found that once you’re on it for a week, you start to notice a decrease. But they found that it was most advantageous once it had been taken for four weeks or more,” Hurtado said.

This is welcomed news for many women like Lee. 

“(Menopause) is normal, but do ask for help," she suggests to other women. "There is help out there for us, we don’t have to suffer alone.”

Read more articles from our Health Matters series here.

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