Today, I'm going to be answering the question, "Do hot flushes cause a temperature or fever?"
This is the question that I have been asked a lot just recently, with a lot of women are wondering that when they get a hot flush or a sweat, is that putting their body temperature up and can you measure it?
The answer, in general, is no. But it's quite important to understand what the mechanism is for a hot flush. And once you've realised what's going on, it can be much easier to sort, and also, you'll know exactly what's going on in the body.
So what exactly happens here?
We know that oestrogen interacts with the brain and your central nervous system. And the central nervous system helps to control your body temperature. So, when your oestrogen starts to fluctuate or, and this is the interesting bit, you get anxious or stressed, then your body's thermostat, can go haywire.
The brain then thinks, "I am getting far too hot. The body's getting too hot. I need to do something quickly before I overheat." So, what happens is that your blood vessels suddenly open up and very often, it tends to be the chest area, the neck, the face, and the head. Although for some women, it can start in the feet and others, in the hand.
At the same time, your body is so desperate to get that blood to the surface where it can cool down that very often, it will induce palpitations as well.
At this point, your circulation will be whizzing around all over the place trying to get to the surface of your skin so that it can start to cool it down. So, although you are feeling really hot and sweaty and you're thinking, "You know, I feel as if I'm having a fever," your body temperature doesn't go up, so you can't measure it with a thermometer.
What may happen is that your skin temperature can increase for a very, very short, maybe one or two minutes, due to all the extra blood that's surfacing there.
The problem is that once your body has done this cooling down process, very often, it can slightly lower your core temperature.
When that happens, the body then goes into panic mode again, thinking, "Oh, the core temperature is too cold. It's too cold. We need to get the body temperature back up." What happens then is very often, you will start to shiver because shivering is your skin and body's ways of generating heat.
Some women find that once the sweat or flush is gone, they start to shiver, or they start to chatter, or they start to get chills and what happens then is that process will just very, very slightly bring your temperature back up again. If you think about it, it's quite a process that goes on here!
So, at that moment, when your body feels extra hot and as I said before, although you're feeling it really hot, there isn't actually a rise in your body temperature as such. So, it's not the same as having a fever.
What does a hot flush feel like?
A lot of women like hot flushes to a sudden creepy feeling of heat that just very slowly works its way up. Other women find that it's a very quick rush of heat that comes all the way up to the head or the face. Some women liken it a little bit to a sort of pulse. Suddenly, they feel as if, you know, maybe it's just their heart going that little bit faster that suddenly, everything is creeping up.
So the one thing to be aware of here is that if you have a hot flush or sweat, it's not going to raise your temperature.
How to tell the difference between a fever and a hot flush
In most cases, the flush will be over quicker than what you could take your temperature with a thermometer. The difference between that and a fever is that the fever will be prolonged. That feeling of heat will go on. It's not something that happens very quickly and then subsides.
Also, if you have a fever, you will notice a difference in your temperature if you take it with a thermometer or some of these other temperature-taking machines that you can either put in your ear or on your forehead.
So I hope this answers your question. As I say, the mechanism for hot flushes is quite a fascinating one. And it lets you see just exactly what's going in your body and how falling oestrogen can interfere with how our body controls itself in very, very many different ways.
Any of you have any comments on this or want a little bit more information, then please do get in touch by asking me a question or commenting in the comment section below.
Need help relieving your hot flushes?
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5 common hot flush triggers
Hot flushes: 5 burning questions answered