With up to 85% of menopausal women in the United States experiencing hot flashes, they are a common symptom that must be better understood. Although hot flashes are an extremely common occurrence for menopausal women, not all women experience them in the same fashion. Hot flashes can wildly vary between women, but there are several symptoms that most women experience during hot flashes.
Common Symptoms of Hot Flashes
Hot flashes can be most easily understood simply by their name. They are essentially “flashes” of heat and increased body temperature that surge throughout the body for up to a minute (commonly thirty seconds). Hot flashes usually occur in the upper body and head regions of the woman, and are usually of a moderate or mild intensity. Although they are usually short-lived, hot flashes can interrupt sleep and can cause a great deal of embarrassment.
All women experience symptoms of menopause differently, and hot flashes are no exception. However, there are several symptoms of hot flashes that tend to be universal. Such symptoms may include:
Pressure in your head:Often times a woman will experience a sensation of pressure in the head prior to the beginning of a hot flash. This is often an excellent warning of an imminent hot flash, and may give the woman time to plan quickly for the upcoming intense heat. This pressure is usually of a mild or moderate intensity.
Flushed or red skin:During a hot flash, a woman’s skin will often become red and blotchy, especially in the face, neck, and upper chest areas. This flush of the skin reflects the intense internal heat that the woman is experiencing, and often is noticed by peers.
Increased heart rate:Although a more rapid heartbeat is a common symptom of hot flashes, accompanying chest pain likely warrants medical consultation.
Excessive sweating:Usually isolated to the face area and upper body region, this uncomfortable symptom leaves a woman glistening with perspiration following a hot flash. This is an often embarrassing symptom, and many women carry around with them miniature tissues and handkerchiefs to blot away the sweat.
Chills:Seemingly illogical, this common symptom can cause a woman to feel chilled following the end of a hot flash. For women who perspire excessively during hot flashes, chills are much more likely to occur once the flash has ended.
Less Common Hot Flash Symptoms
Although occurring in fewer women, the following symptoms are also possible from a hot flash:
Tiredness or fatigue:Most hot flashes subside very rapidly, but can often leave a woman fatigued. Such fatigue has been reported as occurring both before and after a hot flash. Although this fatigue should not be cause for concern, medical consultation should likely be pursued if the fatigue is extraordinarily intense or prolonged.
Dizziness:Although it is a rare occurrence, the intensity of the heat from a hot flash can occasionally cause a woman to feel dizzy for a period of time. The sensation can be likened to that of standing up too quickly. One may find that a cool beverage, such as iced water, can help to alleviate this dizziness, and also promotes hydration on hot days.
Hot flashes are a common experience for menopausal women, and should thus be no cause for major concern. If intense symptoms develop, however, it may be necessary to speak with a medical professional to ensure your health. This is especially imperative during menopause, when the body is already fragile from hormonal imbalance.
Learn about the most common symptoms of menopause: chills, sweats and hot flashes during menopause.