Skip to content

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

Quitting Hormone Replacement Therapy

If you’ve been on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for a while to relieve menopause symptoms, you may be wondering, what now? Should you stop taking it? If so, when? And how do you go about it? If you are healthy, most experts agree that HRT is safe to use at the lowest dose that helps for the shortest time needed. If you're 59 or older, or have been on hormones for 5 years, you should talk to your doctor about quitting.

Read the Quitting Hormone Replacement Therapy 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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    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.
    1
    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
     

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    mature woman tugging on her loose skin
    Slideshow
    senior woman wearing green hat
    Article
     
    mature woman
    Article
    supplements
    Article
     

    WebMD Special Sections