What are hot flashes?

Hot flashes are short, sudden feelings of heat that can occur across the entire body or in parts of the body. Hot flashes may feel like waves of warmth traveling across the body. Hot flashes are generally accompanied by flushing and sweating. They can be mild or intense, can occur at any time of the day, and may be followed by chills.

Hot flashes generally arise from perimenopause or menopause as a result of age-related changes in hormone levels. Surgical removal of the ovaries and some treatments for endometriosis can also induce hot flashes. Hormone imbalances due to polycystic ovarian syndrome, anorexia, even pregnancy can generate hot flashes. They can also be caused by treatments for certain types of cancer.

Hot flashes are generally not serious, but they can interrupt sleep (they may be accompanied by night sweats) and cause discomfort or embarrassment. In cases in which hot flashes are problematic, estrogen therapy, progesterone therapy, antidepressants, or anticonvulsant medications may be used to reduce symptoms. For most postmenopausal women, the duration, frequency and severity of hot flashes will decrease with time.

Home therapy for hot flashes generally consists of comfort measures. You may find that wearing loose clothes and maintaining a comfortable room temperature may be helpful. Learning and practicing relaxation techniques may also help you minimize the discomfort of hot flashes.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have hot flashes along with other serious symptoms, including excessive sweating or high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), as these could be signs of a life-threatening condition. Seek prompt medical care if your hot flashes are persistent, interrupt your sleep, or cause you concern.


SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with hot flashes?

Hot flashes may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the endocrine system may also involve other body systems.

Menopausal symptoms that may occur along with hot flashes

Hot flashes may accompany other symptoms affecting the endocrine system, such as the menopausal transition in w... Read more about hot flashessymptoms

CAUSES

What causes hot flashes?

Hot flashes arise from changes in the body’s levels of estrogen and testosterone. Changes in hormone levels can result from normal processes of the body, such as menopause. Changes in hormone levels can also occur as a result of cancer or its treatments, specifically ovarian, testicular, prostate, and breast cancer.... Read more about hot flashescauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.