Hot flashes are the most common menopause symptom, and they are often seen as an emblematic part of the menopause transition. While hot flashes are typically thought of as a sudden, brief flash of heat, some women may experience more prolonged episodes during menopause.
Some women report that they experience both the typical hot flash, characterized by a rapid rush of heat that dissipates as fast as it arrived, as well as a second type - the ember flash. Ember flashes last longer and may not be as intense as a typical hot flash.
Prolonged Hot Flashes and Tamoxifen
Women who are taking the breast cancer treatment drug tamoxifen may also experience longer-than-average hot flashes. Tamoxifen is used to treat early and advanced stages of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer in pre- and postmenopausal women. It is also sometimes used as a preventative treatment for women with a high risk for developing breast cancer.
Tamoxifen has been linked to prolonged hot flashes that occur in menopausal women, and unlike the ember flashes, tamoxifen-induced prolonged flashes may be just as severe as the classic hot flash, just longer-lasting. This is because this medication lowers the activity of estrogen in the body, similar to the low estrogen levels characteristic of menopause.
Also, women who complete the entire menopause transition (perimenopause to postmenopause) within three years report experiencing more intense and more prolonged hot flashes.
More Information about Prolonged Hot Flashes
Women who experience prolonged hot flashes - or any number of other menopause symptoms - have various options for potential treatment. If your hot flashes are lowering your quality of life or you are worried that they may be caused by an underlying condition, it is advised to consult your doctor about it. Click on the following link to learn more about treatments for hot flashes.
- National Health Service UK. (2015). Hot flushes: how to cope. Retrieved November 17, 2015, from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/menopause/Pages/hot-flushes.aspx
- National Prescribing Service Australia, Medicinewise. (2014). Managing hot flushes in menopause. Retrieved November 17, 2015, from http://www.nps.org.au/publications/consumer/medicinewise-living/2014/managing-hot-flushes