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Preventive Care
Women's Health

Hot Flashes During Menopause: How Long Do They Last?

03 May 2024 · 4 mins read


Hot flashes are a sudden feeling of warmth in the face, neck, and chest, often accompanied by sweating and skin reddening. Learn more.

Hot flashes, a prevalent symptom during the menopausal transition, can be uncomfortable and persist for several years. When these episodes occur at night, they are called night sweats. 

While hot flashes may be an unavoidable aspect of life, they need not be endured without help. Fortunately, this guide offers practical techniques for managing them.

What Are Hot Flashes During Menopause?

Hot flashes are a sudden feeling of warmth in the face, neck, and chest, often accompanied by sweating and skin reddening. They can last for a few seconds to several minutes, or it may even cause chills and rapid heartbeat.

What Age Do Hot Flashes Start?

Hot flashes can start during perimenopause, which is the period before menopause or during menopause when you have not had a period for 12 consecutive months. 

Studies indicate a significant variation in the duration of hot flashes. The average duration can range from 4 to 10 years and can persist well into a woman's 60s and 70s.

How Long Do Menopause Hot Flashes Last?

Hot flashes can vary in intensity, ranging from mild (feeling hot without sweating) to moderate (feeling hot and sweating but manageable) or severe (intensely hot and sweaty, prompting a pause in activities).

Some may only experience mild hot flashes lasting 30 seconds, whereas others may experience hot flashes lasting over 5 minutes that can be severe.

What Causes Hot Flashes During Menopause?

During menopause, a woman's body naturally produces less oestrogen, which can affect the hypothalamus (a brain structure regulating body temperature). This can cause the hypothalamus to become sensitive and wrongly perceive the body as too warm, causing hot flashes.

What Can Trigger Hot Flashes?

Various factors can cause hot flashes, and these triggers can differ from one woman to another. Some of these include:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Warm temperatures
  • Poorly ventilated areas
  • Hot or spicy foods
  • Smoking
  • Stress and anxiety

Identifying and avoiding these triggers is vital to reduce the risk of hot flashes.

How to Treat Hot Flashes?

The treatment and management of hot flashes depend on the severity of symptoms and individual health considerations. Here are common approaches:

  1. Hormonal therapy

    • For menopausal women, oestrogen and sometimes progestin are prescribed to alleviate symptoms.
    • Oestrogen is the primary hormone used in hormone therapy. Once the uterus has been removed (following a hysterectomy), individuals can take oestrogen alone.
    • However, if the uterus is still intact, combining oestrogen with progesterone or the synthetic alternative progestin is typically recommended. This precaution is taken to mitigate the potential risks of uterine cancer and breast cancer associated with using oestrogen alone.
  2. Non-hormonal medications

    • Non-hormonal medications have also been found to reduce hot flashes.
    • Antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – SSRIs.
    • Anti-seizure medications like gabapentin.
    • Blood pressure medication like clonidine.
  3. Dress in layers

    • Wearing layers of clothing can allow you to manage your body temperature during a hot flash by simply adding or removing a layer as needed.
    • Opt for breathable materials such as linen and cotton to reduce discomfort.
  4. Exercise to maintain a healthy body weight

    • Studies indicate that the severity and occurrence of hot flashes are higher in overweight women.
    • Physical activity has been shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes.
  5. Hydrate adequately

    • It is important to stay hydrated by drinking enough water, as this can help regulate body temperature and reduce the frequency of hot flashes.
    • A simple tip is to always carry a water bottle with you.
  6. Quit smoking

    • Smoking can increase the severity of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.
    • Quitting smoking is a challenging but gratifying endeavour. If you find it challenging to quit on your own, consider seeking professional help from a doctor.
  7. Keep your home environment cool

    • Maintaining a cool home environment can reduce the risk of experiencing a hot flash.
    • Use fans or air conditioning at a comfortable temperature, cool pillows or mattresses, and breathable bed covers (i.e. cotton).
  8. Practice relaxation techniques

    • Relaxation techniques can reduce stress and the occurrence of hot flashes.
    • Some techniques include breathing, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness.

When Should You Seek Medical Advice for Your Hot Flashes?

Although hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause, it is best to seek medical advice if they begin to disrupt your daily life.

Severe and frequent hot flashes, especially at night, can reduce sleep quality and increase sleep deprivation. This can put you at risk of fatigue, mood changes, and other medical conditions.

Make an Appointment at Pantai Hospitals

Hot flashes are a common symptom experienced by many women, particularly during the menopausal transition. Manage triggers, adopt a healthy lifestyle, and discuss treatment options with your doctor.

Get in touch with us to book an appointment with our team of gynaecologists today, or find out more about our Obstetrics and Gynaecology Services at your nearest Pantai Hospital.

Pantai Hospitals have been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

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