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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
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
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