What Are Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes are brief episodes of increased body heat that are thought to be related to changes in estrogen and other female hormone levels, which occur due to menopause.
Nighttime hot flashes can leave you wet with perspiration. Twenty-one percent of postmenopausal women have difficulty sleeping a couple of nights a week due to nighttime hot flashes.
Hot flashes affect 30% to 80% of postmenopausal women. Most women experience hot flashes for 6 months to 2 years. These sudden waves of heat can be hard to tolerate and sometimes interfere with your daily routines. Some women never have a hot flash or only have them for a few months, while others can experience them for a decade or more. As your body adjusts to postmenopause, hot flashes usually subside.
The Heat of Hot Flashes
- During a typical hot flash, your face and upper body start to feel very warm
- The blood flow to the surface of your skin increases
- Your face and upper body can become red and flushed
- Your heart may beat faster
- You may experience heavy sweating
- You may get chills as your body temperature returns to normal
Duration and Frequency of Hot Flashes
- Hot flashes typically last between 1 to 5 minutes
- You may have them just once or twice a week, a few times a day, or several times an hour
Severity of Hot Flashes
- Mild hot flashes are defined as sensations of heat without sweating
- Moderate hot flashes involve heat and sweating, but don’t interrupt daily life activities
- Severe hot flashes involve heat and sweating, and can get in the way of your daily activities
Nighttime Hot Flashes
- Nighttime hot flashes can range from mild to severe and may be strong enough to interfere with sleeping patterns
- Heavy sweating can be a common symptom of nighttime hot flashes
- Nighttime hot flashes can drench your bedding and sleepwear
- Nighttime hot flashes are a common reason menopausal women seek medical attention