Hot Flashes 101

What causes hot flashes?

We still don’t know for sure. Changes in hormonal balance during menopause clearly play a role. Some think that changes in the circulatory system could be a trigger, which would explain why the face flushes red.

Even though their cause remains a puzzle, more than two in three women experience symptoms of hot flashes during perimenopause and menopause. During a hot flash, the body temperature spikes and sweating tries to cool the body down. Some women report an elevated heart rate and chills.

Pregnant women can experience hot flashes too. Some women only get them for a short time, while others have them for life, though symptoms gradually decrease in severity.

Know what makes hot flashes worse:

  1. Stress: This is the biggest trigger. Find out which situations bring you stress and plan how to manage it in advance. Learn about anxiety reduction techniques. Remember, worrying about getting a hot flash can bring one on.
  2. Diet and lifestyle: The first things to cut back are spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine. Don’t forget that chocolate contains lots of caffeine. Smoking can also increase the frequency of hot flashes.
  3. The environment: Being in an overheated room never helps. Wear comfortable, loose clothing to let heat escape.


Hormone replacement therapy, blood pressure medication, contraceptive pills, antidepressants, ibuprofen and anti-seizure drugs have all been used to treat hot flashes. Make sure you ask your doctor about possible side effects when considering any medication.

Want to learn more about hot flashes? Visit the Segal Institute blog and consider joining one of our clinical research opportunities!


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