Hot Flashes

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideMenopause & Perimenopause: Symptoms, Signs

Menopause & Perimenopause: Symptoms, Signs

What do hot flashes feel like (symptoms)?

  • Hot flashes are typically brief, lasting from about 30 seconds to a few minutes.
  • Redness of the skin, known as flushing, may accompany hot flashes.
  • Excessive perspiration (sweating) can also occur; when hot flashes occur during sleep they may be accompanied by night sweats.
  • Feelings of anxiety may accompany hot flashes.
  • Occasionally, palpitations (feelings of a racing heart beat) may occur during hot flashes.

The timing of the onset of hot flashes in women approaching menopause is variable.

  • While not all women will experience hot flashes, many normally menstruating women will begin experiencing hot flashes even several years prior to the cessation of menstrual periods.
  • It is impossible to predict if a woman will experience hot flashes, and if she does, when they will begin.
  • About 40% to 85% of women experience hot flashes at some point in the menopausal transition.

How is the cause of hot flashes diagnosed?

Hot flashes are a symptom, not a medical condition. Taking a thorough medical history, the health-care professional will usually be able to determine whether a woman is having hot flashes. The patient will be asked to describe the hot flashes, including how often and when they occur, and if there are other associated symptoms. A physical examination together with the medical history can help determine the cause of the hot flashes and direct further testing if necessary.

Blood tests may be performed if the diagnosis is unclear, either to measure hormone levels or to look for signs of other conditions (such as infection) that could be responsible for the hot flashes.

What are the treatments and remedies for hot flashes?

There are a variety of treatments for hot flashes such as:

Some of these have not been tested by clinical studies, nor are they approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/6/2016

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