Like an orgasm, if you have experienced a hot flush, you know what it is. A hot flush or simply flash is actually the result of dilatation of blood vessels at the skin surface. Hot flushes typically occurs in the head, neck and upper thorax region and may last for several seconds. It is associated with a feeling of intense warmth and flushing of the skin.
Although medically benign, it can be quite distressing and annoying. Hot flashes are normal physiologic events, but they may cause a woman to appear flustered or out of control. And a flustered appearance is less than desirable in many situations.
Causes of Hot Flushes
Hot flushes result from decreases in a woman’s estrogenic environment. Drops in the estrogenic environment may occur during:
- the pill-free week on oral contraceptives
- the estrogen-free week on sequential estrogen replacement therapy regimens
- clomiphene citrate therapy
- lupron therapy
Fever and Hot Flushes
Women may feel feverish, but they do not experience an increase in their core body temperature above 98.6 degrees during a hot flush. However, since a hot flush involves dilatation of skin-surface blood vessels, women may see an increase in peripheral body temperature if they were to take their temperature with skin-surface thermometers.
Stress and Hot Flushes
Stress is associated with hot flushes. The area in the brain’s hypothalamus that controls our body temperature is in close proximity to estrogen receptors. Changes in estrogen levels actually induce these thermoregulatory centers to cause a hot flush.
Changing Quality of Life
While hot flushes themselves may be medically benign, they can be quite damaging to a woman’s quality of life. We will go into how to treat this and what to avoid in next article – Managing Hot Flashes