Hot flashes are a feeling of warmth that comes on suddenly and usually lasts a few minutes. It is usually accompanied by excessive perspiration.
Sometimes, a person may also experience transient redness of the skin, especially of the face and neck area.
Hot flashes are quite discomforting and can interfere with usual daily activities.
Insomnia due to interrupted sleep is a major problem. Frequent hot flashes at night can lead to insomnia and daytime tiredness. Fights over controlling the thermostat in the house are quite common.
When a woman over the age of 40 experiences these symptoms, she is usually experiencing estrogen deficiency due to ovarian failure, also known as menopause.
A woman may have hot flashes due to estrogen deficiency while still having menses. With proper laboratory testing, an accurate diagnosis can be made.
However, hot flashes are not always due to menopause nor are they limited to women. Men can also experience hot flashes due to testosterone deficiency as a result of aging or as a result of medical treatment for prostate cancer.
Certain medical conditions such as an Overactive thyroid, Tuberculosis, Panic attacks and some rare medical disorders can cause excessive perspiration.
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This article was written by Sarfraz Zaidi, MD, FACE. Dr. Zaidi specializes in Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Dr. Zaidi is a former assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCLA and Director of the Jamila Diabetes and Endocrine Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California.
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