Hot flashes aren’t just an inconvenient nuisance. They also take a significant toll on women's overall health, quality of life, productivity at work, and healthcare costs.
That’s the key conclusion of a new survey of more than 3,000 women over 40 years of age published online in the journal Menopause that calculates the financial and non-monetary impacts of hot flashes.
The survey, conducted by Kantar Health and sponsored by Pfizer Inc., showed that, for women with severe symptoms, lost work productivity costs about $6,560, compared with $1,079 for women with mild symptoms. Costs for doctor visits for hot flashes are also much higher for women with severe symptoms — $962 compared with $574 for those with mild symptoms and $257 for those without symptoms.
In addition, women with severe symptoms feel much less healthy than those with milder symptoms, even if they have the same body mass index and number of other illnesses.
"This study underscores the burden that severe hot flashes put on women and our society. It also emphasizes the need for more safe options to control symptoms," said Margery Gass, director of the nonprofit North American Menopause Society. "New, safe, non-hormonal prescription options could be a great boon to the many women who have a need for hot flash therapy."
As many as 40 percent of women experience hot flashes, with 15 percent suffering the sudden body temperature fluctuations for more than 15 years. Hormones are sometimes prescribed to ease the symptoms, but they carry side effects that some women cannot tolerate.
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