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Hot flushes, night sweats and palpitations

Menopause symptoms and treatments.

Hot flushes, night sweats and palpitations

These are the symptoms most commonly associated with menopause and they are referred to as vasomotor symptoms of menopause. Not every person will experience them and they will vary in terms of how often they happen, how intense they are and how long they last for. 

Any woman can get vasomotor symptoms in perimenopause and menopause, most commonly they happen in the first year after the final period but you can get them at any time. If no treatment is taken, these symptoms can last for several years.

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Hot flush

A hot flush is a temporary feeling of intense heat, usually in the upper body, arms and face. It may come with visible flushing and sometimes sweating, and can sometimes cause embarrassment when it happens in public.

Night sweats

A night sweat is similar to a hot flush in that it is an overheating problem, but it refers to an intense period of sweating that can be enough to soak through night clothes and even bedding. Once the feeling of heat has gone, your body may react by cooling down too much and you might get shivers.


There may also be palpitations when a hot flush or night sweat is occurring. This is when you become aware of your heart beating, it may quicken, feel stronger, or you sense an irregularity to the normal rhythm. This can be an unsettling feeling when it first happens.

Health Risks

Studies have shown that women who experience hot flushes – especially intense flushes – are at an increased risk of future cardiovascular events like a heart attack or a stroke. Your memory may be more affected if you suffer with hot flushes and night sweats, due to a combination of disrupted blood flow to the brain, a lack of sleep from night sweats, and a low mood that can occur as a result of both.

Ways to help

  • Notice if anything triggers your flushes or sweats. This might be caffeine, hot drinks, alcohol, or spicy food for example, and try your best to avoid these.
  • Stop smoking as this is known to exacerbate hot flushes.
  • Wear natural fibre clothing and use layers so you can take them off when a flush occurs
  • Have a fan at work and by your bed
  • Use a thinner duvet or sheets and blankets to be able to layer them on and off during the night. (There are also split tog duvets available if you usually share one with a partner).
  • Use a calming technique during the flush, sweat or palpitation as feeling anxious about it may make it worse. Deep breathing, affirmations, reminding yourself it will pass soon can help. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been shown to help hot flushes too.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the most effective treatment for all these vasomotor symptoms.