Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Menopause Health Center

Font Size

Hot Flashes and Menopause - Topic Overview

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.

Recommended Related to Menopause

Too Young for Menopause

When she was 26, Lara Dietz learned she had breast cancer -- a shock to this mother of two very young children. Then came the second blow. When treatment began, so did premature menopause. "I was having hot flashes," she says. "I felt like I was 55 years old." When menopause occurs between ages 45 to 55, it is considered "natural." When it occurs before age 40 -- regardless the cause -- it is called premature menopause. The ovaries no longer produce an egg each month, so monthly menstrual cycles...

Read the Too Young for Menopause article > >

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 flashes begin.

Tips for managing hot flashes

  • Dress in layers, so you can remove clothes as needed.
  • Wear natural fabrics, such as cotton and silk.
  • Keep the room temperature cool or use a fan. You're more likely to have a hot flash in a warm environment than in a cool one.
  • Sleep with fewer blankets.
  • Drink cold beverages rather than hot ones.
  • Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals to avoid the heat generated by digesting large amounts of food.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Use relaxation techniques, such as breathing-for-relaxation exercises or meditation, yoga, and biofeedback.
  • Get regular physical exercise.
1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 26, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Hot Flashes and Menopause Topics

Today on WebMD

woman walking outdoors
How to handle headaches, night sweats, and more.
mature woman holding fan in face
Symptoms and treatments.
 
woman hiding face behind hands
11 ways to keep skin bright and healthy.
insomnia
Is it menopause or something else?
 
senior couple
Video
mature woman shopping for produce
Article
 
Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
Article
mature couple on boat
Article
 
mature woman tugging on her loose skin
Slideshow
senior woman wearing green hat
Article
 
mature woman
Article
supplements
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections