Recent Blog Articles
Masks save lives: Here’s what you need to know
Stretching studios: Do you need what they offer?
Why are women more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease?
Seeing red? 4 steps to try before responding
Tics and TikTok: Can social media trigger illness?
Pandemic challenges may affect babies — possibly in long-lasting ways
4 immune-boosting strategies that count right now
If you have knee pain, telehealth may help
How to address opposition in young children
New study investigates treatment-associated regrets in prostate cancer
Welcome to our Decision Health Guide on Hot Flashes.
This guide is designed for women who are experiencing hot flashes during menopause.
Hot flashes occur when estrogen hormone levels decrease. Hot flashes are felt by about 85% of women during the years immediately before and after menopause. They are uncomfortable, but they are not dangerous. By answering a short series of questions, you will learn about typical hot flashes and ways to help relieve them.
The information provided in our guide is intended to augment the advice from your own doctor. You should always contact you doctor's office if you think your symptoms are even a little atypical. You want to be sure that they are just hot flashes related to menopause.
Hot flash symptoms are remarkably similar for different women. Hot flashes are more common at night. A hot flash begins all of a sudden, with a surprising sensation of heat on your face and upper chest. This feeling of heat quickly spreads to involve much more of your upper body. The sensation lasts between two and four minutes. It is caused by dilating blood vessels near to your skin surface.
Many hot flashes cause women to perspire heavily, even to the point of soaking your clothing. Because a hot flash causes you to lose heat from your skin surface, it drops your body temperature slightly. When the hot flash subsides, your body goes to work trying to restore your core temperature to normal. During this recovery time, you can experience shivering, chills, and occasionally heart palpitations (extra beats or a sensation that your heart is racing).
Hot flashes can interfere with your sleep. Because they can awaken you repeatedly at night, they can cause daytime fatigue. Hot flashes and loss of sleep can interfere with your ability to concentrate on tasks, and for some women hot flashes and loss of sleep can contribute to depression.
Fevers can cause flushing and shivering as well, so take your temperature to make sure you are dealing with hot flashes instead of a fever. A fever is never caused by a menopausal hot flash symptom. If you feel hot and your temperature taken by a thermometer is abnormally high, you are experiencing a fever, not a hot flash.
Having reviewed this description, do you think your hot flash symptoms are typical?
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Free Healthbeat Signup
Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!