A hot flash, sometimes called a hot flush, is a quick feeling of heat and sometimes a red, flushed face and sweating. The exact cause of hot flashes is not known, but may be related to changes in circulation.
Hot flashes happen when the blood vessels near the skin's surface dilate to cool. A woman may also sweat to cool down her body. And some women have a rapid heart rate or chills.
A hot flush is a hot flash plus redness in the face and neck.
How Long Will I Have Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes vary among women going through menopause. Some women have hot flashes for a very short time during menopause. Other women may have hot flashes for life. Generally, hot flashes are less severe as time passes.
Can I Prevent Hot Flashes?
You probably can't avoid hot flashes during menopause, but there are things that may bring them on more often or cause them to be more severe. To prevent hot flashes, avoid these triggers:
Try chill pillows. Cooler pillows to lay your head on at night might be helpful.
Talk to your doctor about taking hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, for a short time -- less than 5 years. This treatment prevents hot flashes in many women. Plus, it can help other symptoms of menopause, including vaginal dryness and mood disorders. Keep in mind that when you stop taking HRT, the hot flashes may come back. Short-term HRT carries some risks, including blood clots and gallbladder inflammation. If HRT is not right for you, there are other treatments that may offer relief. It is important to clear any new drugs (including over-the-counter) or supplements with your doctor before taking them.