Hot flushes are an unfortunate symptom of menopause, but they can have other causes. Here's the lowdown.
Hot flushes, or hot flashes, are exactly what you probably think they are: a rapid onset of heat or warmth, sometimes accompanied by sweating and a red face that gives you a ‘flushed’ appearance. Flushes can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes at a time. As the flush subsides you might feel cold and experience a faster heart rate.
Hot flushes can be caused by hormonal changes, as well as changes in the way your body regulates its temperature.
Hot flushes are often a symptom of menopause, or perimenopause.
Menopause is the time when your body gradually stops menstruating. Most women experience this in their late forties, but there can be great variation, with some women not reaching this point until their late fifties. Menopausal symptoms, including hot flushes, can carry on for many years after menopause has occurred.
Perimenopause is the transitional period before menopause, in which women’s bodies prepare to cease menstruation. This usually happens 1-2 years before menopause begins, but can occur up to ten years beforehand. It’s possible to experience typical menopause symptoms throughout perimenopause as well as menopause.
While most people think of menopause when they hear the term ‘hot flushes’, there are a variety of other reasons why you may be feeling red-faced, sweaty and overheated:
If you are experiencing hot flushes, you should always discuss your symptoms with your healthcare professional, who will be able to diagnose your condition and confirm whether your symptoms are menopause-related or caused by another issue.
If your menopausal hot flushes are mild, you may be able to reduce their severity or impact with some lifestyle changes.
Generally, hot flushes shouldn’t be ignored. It’s important to visit your healthcare professional if you think you’re experiencing hot flushes, particularly if they are increasing in severity or duration. There may be an underlying health concern responsible for your symptoms.