Medical News Today: How does a hot flash feel?

a woman experiencing a hot flash during the menopause Share on Pinterest
Symptoms of a hot flash occur in the upper body.

Hot flashes cause a sudden sensation of heat in the upper body. A person might experience symptoms in the chest, arms, neck, or face.

The heart rate also tends to increase during a hot flash, intensifying the sensation of heat. Most hot flashes last between 30 seconds and 10 minutes, but they can be longer.

The frequency of hot flashes varies significantly among individuals. For instance, they can happen many times an hour, a few times a day, or less than once a week. Some people find that their hot flashes follow a predictable pattern.

During a hot flash, blood vessels in the upper body expand, allowing more blood flow to the area. This increased blood flow can cause blotchy patches on the skin, or flushing.

Some people report experiencing anxiety or stress during a hot flash, especially if they are out in public and feel concerned about looking flushed.

After a hot flash, as the body attempts to cool itself, a person may experience sweating that causes them to feel cold or shiver.

Doctors think that fluctuating estrogen levels may affect blood vessels, causing sudden changes in vessel dilation that trigger hot flashes. Estrogen therapy may, therefore, ease some symptoms.

The transition to menopause usually begins between the ages of 45 and 55 years. A person reaches menopause after 1 year without a period. The average age of menopause is 51 years.

However, some people experience early menopause in their 30s. Others may continue menstruating into their late 50s or even early 60s.

Age is generally a good predictor of menopause, though, and it can help with determining whether a sudden feeling of heat is a hot flash or something else.

Those in their 20s or 30s who experience sudden rushes of heat may have another problem, such as a fever, infection, or inflammation.

Even when menopause is the culprit, it is important to see a doctor when symptoms appear very early. Some medical conditions may trigger early menopause.

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