Font Size

Hot Flashes and Menopause (cont.)

What do hot flashes feel like?

Hot flashes often begin before any menstrual changes suggestive of menopause develop, so hot flashes may appear even years prior to the actual menopause. Hot flashes always involve the sensation of heat, but other symptoms may also be associated as follows:

  • An uncomfortable, diffuse feeling of warmth throughout the body, that is often most severe in the head and neck areas, is characteristic of hot flashes.
  • Flushing (redness) of the skin may occur.
  • Excessive sweating, including night sweats, can accompany hot flashes.
  • Palpitations (unpleasant sensations of irregular and/or forceful beating of the heart) may sometime accompany hot flashes.
  • Chills and shivering can occur following a hot flash.

The symptoms of a hot flash typically develop suddenly, without warning, and last from less than one minute to several minutes.

What causes hot flashes?

The exact cause of the hot flashes is not fully understood, but the declining estrogen levels that occur as a woman approaches menopause are thought to play a role. A disorder in thermoregulation (methods the body uses to control and regulate body temperature) is responsible for the sensation of heat, but the exact way in which hormone levels affect heat regulation is not well understood.

While hot flashes are typically associated with the menopause in women, certain uncommon medical conditions can also lead to hot flashes and disorders of the body's ability to regulate temperature. One example is the carcinoid syndrome, which occurs due to a type of endocrine tumor that secretes large amounts of the hormone serotonin. Hot flashes can also develop as a side effect of some medications and can sometimes occur in association with severe infections or cancers.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/11/2016

Menopause Quiz IQ

Must Read Articles Related to Hot Flashes and Menopause

Female Sexual Problems
Female Sexual Problems Long considered a taboo subject, women's sexuality is now openly discussed and portrayed on television, in magazines, and on the internet. Symptoms of female se...learn more >>
Hormone Replacement and Osteoporosis
Hormone Replacement and Osteoporosis Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) is often used in treating the learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Hot Flashes:

Hot Flashes - Diagnosis

How was your hot flashes diagnosed?

Hot Flashes - Herbals and Supplements

What herbal products or supplements have helped ease your hot flashes?

Hot Flashes - Prescription Medications

What prescription medications have helped reduce your hot flashes?

Hot Flashes - Bioidentical Hormone Therapy

Did/does bioidentical hormone therapy help with your hot flashes?

Hot Flashes - Symptoms

What do your hot flashes feel like?

Hot Flashes - Describe Your Experience

Please describe your experience with hot flashes.

Medical Dictionary