Written by Avantina Sharma, Ph.D (Foods and Nutrition), M.Sc (Foods and Nutrition) | 

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Ramya Ananthakrishnan, MD on Mar 21, 2018

Mechanism of Hot Flash

Hot flash is thought to be triggered by low levels of estrogen caused by the declining ovarian function that occurs during menopause. The hypothalamus in the brain, which controls the body temperature becomes confused and as a result heat releasing mechanism is triggered. The phenomenon is caused when the blood vessels (capillaries, veins, arterioles) all dilate which causes heat to dissipate off. In addition to this the sweat glands release more sweat to cause cooling.

According to Sue Davis, "There can be just hotness in the face, or some women have total body heat. They go red, they start sweating, and they're dripping under their armpits ... some women wake up several times a night drenched in sweat."

The duration of a hot flash can extend anywhere between 3 to 5 minutes. But there are instances where an episode had stretched to about an hour or so. The duration and intensity of hot flashes varies from one woman to another.

Hot Flash - References:

  1. Avantina Sharma, Textbook of Food Science and Technology, International Book distributor (IBDC) publishers, India.
  2. Albertazzi P et al. The effect of dietary soy supplementation on hot flushes. Obstetrics and Gynecology 1998;91: 6-11
  3. Charles L Loprinzi et al. Venlafaxine in management of hot flushes in survivors of breast cancer: a randomized controlled trial. The Lancet. Volume 356 Page 2059
  4. Jeri AR. The effect of isoflavones phyto-estrogens in relieving hot flushes in Peruvian postmenopausal women. Paper presented at: 9th International Menopause Society World Congress on the Menopause; October 20, 1999; Yokahama, Japan.
  5. Vasomotor symptom relief by soy isoflavone extract tablets in postmenopausal women: a multicenter, double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Menopause. 2000 Jul-Aug;7(4):236-42.


guest Tuesday, March 20, 2007

My worst hot flashes feel similar to a slight electrical shock, short-lived but very significant (as if I have stuck my finger in a light socket.) Has anyone else experience a similar type of hot flash? I have also had the type where you feel as if your temperature immediately rises and you must remove clothing while profusely perspiring.

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