Hot Flash: Symptoms, Causes & Risks

What are hot flashes and its symptoms.

A hot flash is the sudden feeling of warmth in the upper body. It is usually most intense over the face, neck, and chest. Your skin might redden as if you’re blushing. A hot flash can also cause sweating.

Although other medical conditions can cause them, hot flashes most commonly are due to menopause — the time when menstrual periods become irregular and eventually stop. In fact, hot flashes are the most common symptom of the menopausal transition.


During a hot flash, you might have:

  • A sudden feeling of warmth spreading through your chest, neck, and face
  • A flushed appearance with red, blotchy skin
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Perspiration, mostly on your upper body
  • A chilled feeling as the hot flash lets up
  • Feelings of anxiety

Hot flashes may be mild or so intense that they disrupt daily activities. They can happen at any time of day or night. Nighttime hot flashes (night sweats) may wake you from sleep and can cause long-term sleep disruptions. If hot flashes affect your daily activities or nighttime sleep, consider seeing your doctor discuss treatment options.


Hot flashes are most commonly caused by changing hormone levels before, during, and after menopause. Other potential causes include medication side effects, problems with your thyroid, certain cancers, and side effects of cancer treatment.

Risk Factors

  • Smoking. Women who smoke are more likely to get hot flashes.
  • Obesity. A high body mass index (BMI) is associated with a higher frequency of hot flashes.

Hot flashes are reported least frequently in Asian women. Research suggests that women who have hot flashes may have an increased risk of heart disease and greater bone loss than women who do not have hot flashes.


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