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Objective: The purpose of this study is to present the physiology and differential diagnosis of hot flashes, other than associated with menopause, in order to facilitate the proper evaluation of symptomatic patients with hot flashes. Study Design: Literature search using Med-Line computer access. Results: Interest in flushing reaction began in historic times. With the rapidly expanding population of women over the age of 45 and prevalence of hot flashes as menopausal symptoms, physicians need to be aware of other medical conditions which may mimic hot flashes. These include flushing due to systemic diseases, carcinoid syndrome, systemic mast cell disease, pheochromocytoma, medullary carcinoma of the thyroid, pancreatic islet-cell tumors, renal cell carcinoma, neurological flushing, emotional flushing, spinal cord injury, flushing reaction related to alcohol and drugs, flushing associated with food additives, and eating. Conclusion: There is a wide variety of disease processes that can cause hot flashes. Knowledge of the nature of these disease processes is necessary for quick recognition of patients with hot flashes who do not respond to estrogen replacement treatment, and to facilitate the proper evaluation of atypical patients.
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