Hot flashes

Hot flashes are sudden feelings of warmth, which are usually most intense over the face, neck and chest. Your skin may redden, as if you're blushing. Hot flashes can also cause profuse sweating and may leave you chilled.

Although other hormonal conditions can cause them, hot flashes most commonly are due to menopause — the time when a woman's menstrual periods stop. In fact, hot flashes are the most common symptom of the menopausal transition.

How often hot flashes occur varies from woman to woman, but usually the range is from one or two a day to one an hour. There are a variety of treatments for particularly bothersome hot flashes.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

During a hot flash, you may experience:

  • A sudden feeling of warmth spreading through your upper body and face
  • A flushed appearance with red, blotchy skin
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Perspiration, mostly on your upper body
  • Feeling chilled as the hot flash subsides

Hot flashes vary in frequency — you may have few or many in a day — and each hot flash usually subsides in a few minutes. They're particularly common at night. Most women who experience hot flashes have them for more than a year, but they usually stop on their own within four to five years.

When to see a doctor

If hot flashes become particularly bothersome, consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss treatment options.

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