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Hot Flashes


Disease: Hot Flashes Hot Flashes
Category: Gynecological diseases
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Disease Definition:

At any time, a woman could experience a hot flash, which will leave her sweaty and red-faced. Hot flashes are usually caused by menopause but other hormonal conditions could also cause them. About 3 out of 4 women going through menopause experience them.

In case women are tolerating hot flashes well, they don't need to be treated. However, treatments are available in case the hot flashes become especially bothersome. It could take some time until a woman finds the best way to control hot flashes. With the help of a doctor, a woman should consider the pros and cons of prescription medications, lifestyle changes and other common remedies.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


Some of the symptoms of a hot flash may be:


  • As the hot flash begins, a feeling of pressure in the head
  • A flushed appearance with red, blotchy skin on the face, neck and upper chest
  • Perspiration, usually on the upper body
  • A feeling of mild warmth to intense heat that spreads through the face and upper body
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • As the hot flash subsides, a chilled feeling.

Some of the less common symptoms that are associated with hot flashes may include:


  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

The frequency of hot flashes varies. Women may have just a few each week, or they may have several in one day. women might occasionally feel warmer than they used to, or they may experience persistent sweating throughout the day and night. Even though most hot flashes subside within a couple of minutes, however, they could also last as long as 30 minutes. women may be awakened from a sound sleep due to nighttime hot flashes (night sweats).

women should see a doctor and discuss treatment options in case hot flashes become particularly bothersome and disrupt their daily routines.



Even though the signs and symptoms of hot flashes point to factors that affect the function of the body's thermostat, which is the hypothalamus, however, their exact cause is still not known. The hypothalamus is located at the base of the brain and regulates body temperature, in addition to other basic processes. Hot flashes may be due to the estrogen reduction during menopause, which could disrupt hypothalamic function.

The withdrawal of estrogen that occurs during menopause seems to be the trigger because low estrogen alone usually doesn't cause hot flashes, as children and women with low levels of estrogen due to medical conditions don't experience hot flashes.




A common complication of hot flashes includes sleep problems. Night sweats could wake a woman from sleep and cause chronic insomnia over time. Anxiety, depression and memory problems could be caused in some women due to these sleep disturbances.



Menopause is a natural transition. A woman won't need treatment if hot flashes don't interfere with her life. She could ease her symptoms with treatment; and re-evaluate her need for continuing that treatment periodically. For most women, hot flashes fade gradually within a few years.

Someone may be recommended hormone therapy for moderate to severe hot flashes. Although in some cases progesterone therapy may be prescribed, however, the most effective treatment for hot flashes is estrogen therapy.

Estrogen therapy:
A woman could take estrogen alone in case she had a hysterectomy. However, if the woman's reproductive organs are still intact, to protect herself against cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer), she should take progesterone along with estrogen. To relieve symptoms, she will be recommended using the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time.

A woman should review her heart-disease risk factors with a doctor before starting estrogen therapy for menopause symptoms, and weigh the pros and cons, which are symptom relief against the remote but recognized risk of developing heart disease as a result. It's quite possible that hormone therapy interacts with timing, family history, length of hormone use, reproductive history and other factors, however, there's no way to find out which treatment is the safest.

In case a woman has had breast cancer or a blood clot, estrogen therapy won't be a good option.

Progesterone therapy:
To control hot flashes, a woman may be prescribed progesterone alone in case she can't take estrogen. A woman may experience some relief from hot flashes in case she uses medroxyprogesterone acetate or megestrol acetate, which are progesterone-like drugs.

Women may be suggested a non-hormonal medication for reducing hot flashes, in case they decide against estrogen or progesterone therapy.

Pain or seizures that are associated with shingles are treated with gabapentin. Other types of pain could also be treated with this medication. Especially for women who have symptoms at night, gabapentin could be moderately effective in reducing hot flashes. Dizziness, headaches and drowsiness could be some of its side effects.

Hot flashes may be decreased by low doses of certain antidepressants. Hot flashes have been relieved with a certain class of antidepressants known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) such as fluoxetine, desvenlafaxine, venlafaxone, citalopram, paroxetine and others. Sexual dysfunction, nausea, weight gain and dizziness could be some of the side effects of these medications. In addition, these medications are not as effective as hormone therapy for severe hot flashes. In order to know if the benefits of these medications outweigh the potential side effects, a doctor should be consulted.

A woman may experience some relief from hot flashes if she uses clonidine, which is a pill or patch that is usually used to treat high blood pressure. This medication has side effects that limit its usefulness for treating hot flashes, such as constipation, dizziness, dry mouth and drowsiness.



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