Topic Overview

A hot flash is a sudden sensation of intense body heat, often with
profuse sweating and reddening of the head, neck, and chest. These symptoms can
occur with mild to severe heart palpitations, anxiety, irritability and,
rarely, panic. Hot flashes are the most common symptom of a woman’s changing
estrogen levels around the time of her last menstrual period (menopause).

The biochemical cause of hot flashes is not well understood. Hot
flashes are more common at night than during the day and are a common cause of
sleep problems for perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.

While some women will never experience hot flashes, others begin
having them in their 30s. Hot flashes are most frequent and intense during the
first 2 years of
postmenopause, when estrogen levels have dropped below
a certain point. Sleep patterns usually improve within 6 to 12 months after hot
flashes begin.

Tips for managing hot flashes

  • Dress in layers, so you can remove clothes as
    needed.
  • Wear natural fabrics, such as cotton and
    silk.
  • Keep the room temperature cool or use a fan. You’re more
    likely to have a hot flash in a warm environment than in a cool
    one.
  • Sleep with fewer blankets.
  • Drink cold beverages
    rather than hot ones.
  • Limit your intake of caffeine and
    alcohol.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals to avoid the heat
    generated by digesting large amounts of food.
  • Do not
    smoke.
  • Use relaxation techniques, such as breathing-for-relaxation
    exercises or meditation, yoga, and biofeedback.
  • Get regular
    physical exercise.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD – Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH – Geriatric Medicine

Current as ofOctober 6, 2017