An Overview of Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18, 2018

night sweats in women

What are Hot Flashes and Night Sweats?

Nocturnal Sleep hyperhidrosis is commonly known as the 'night sweats', and is a result of the occurrence of excessive sweating during sleep.

Although its ultimate cause is unclear, it is thought that changes in the levels of two hormones (Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing hormone (LH)) are thought to play a major role in the process, just as they do in the case of hot flashes.

A deficiency in estrogen may be triggered by a variety of causes and is regarded as the prime cause of experiencing excessive heat, reddening/blotchiness of the skin, and perspiration.

Though many people sweat during their sleep, night sweats fall into a more extreme category, going beyond simply being too hot because of warm bedding. If a person wakes up with their pajamas and bedding soaked in sweat, even when the sleeping environment is cool and comfortable, then this is a strong indicator of night sweats.

night sweats in women

Sometimes it can be  difficult to get a good nights sleep when you are suffering from night sweats. Photograph by Juanedc.

Adults (both male and female) as well as children can experience them, and there are a variety of factors that can lead to this condition. In a similar manner, a hot flash also causes the body to feel extreme heat, even when external factors are not present. Hot flashes can occur at any time throughout the day and typically last anywhere from seconds to minutes. Menopausal woman are most affected by hot flashes, often experiencing multiple ones per day. Having a hot flash while pregnant is also common.

Symptoms of Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

The symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats are similar, with the time of day being the only true differing factor. They include:

  • an experience of flush; the skin getting warm suddenly
  • tingling in the fingers
  • increased heart rate
  • sweating
  • dizziness
  • increased body temperature

Hot Flashes and Night Sweats Causes & Risk Factors

While hot flashes are a common experience for menopausal women, they, along with night sweats, can be caused by other physical elements.

These include hormonal changes, excessive alcohol consumption, anxiety, hypoglycemia, hyperhidrosis, and a variety of medications (such as some steroids, antidepressants, and painkillers).

Although every person's body responds differently, there are numerous commonly reported triggers and reasons for night sweats and hot flashes:

  • eating spicy or acidic foods
  • consuming caffeine
  • smoking
  • wearing tight clothing
  • drinking alcohol
  • being in an overly warm room
  • consuming white sugar

Avoiding the above night sweats risk factors can help to lessen the risk of having a hot flash. Their connection to other risk factors and conditions, such as diabetes, is also being studied. Obesity and metabolic syndrome have been linked with the experience of hot flashes and are believed to increase occurrence.

There are also several types of conditions that may be cause for more serious concern and can increase one's likelihood of severe hot flashes and night sweats. These include bacterial infections: osteomyelitis (inflammation in the bones) and endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valves) ware often associated with night sweats. It is tuberculosis however that is the most common infection linked to extreme night sweats. Furthermore, excessive sweating has been identified as possible symptoms of HIV and lymphoma. Though uncommon, researchers have speculated that there are links between night sweats and several neurologic disorders, such as autonomic dysreflexia, posttraumatic syringomyelia, stroke, and autonomic neuropathy.

Many women accept hot flashes in menopause as a natural stage in their life span, viewing them as a minor annoyance. However, for many women the level of intensity of the flush can have a major negative impact upon their daily lives.

By identifying one's own triggers and working out to avoid them, many women are able to effectively manage their symptoms. When this alone is insufficient to alleviate discomfort, there are many types of treatment options available: these range from at-home remedies to intervention by medical professionals. It is important to note, that some natural supplements and therapies can interfere with certain medications that you may be taking or can lead to other health concerns, so be sure to consult a doctor before starting any physical and/or natural treatment regiment.

Conventional and Traditional Hot Flash and Night Sweat Remedies and Cures

Sometimes, preventing or dealing with a hot flash can be as simple as making smart clothing choices. During cooler months, wearing layers, even on the coldest days, gives a woman the power to adjust how she is experiencing external temperatures. Opting for light fabrics, such as cotton, is a viable option for coping with hot flashes and sweats during the night. Having access to cold ice water to drink and using a cold ice pack to cool down in bed are also simple routine tweaks that can help give a woman a bit more control of how she is feeling.

Though not yet supported by empirical evidence from the medical community, many women have taken to herbal and plant supplements and natural oils as hot flash remedies. The root of the herb Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) has long been used to treat women's health issues. It can be taken as a supplement or in other forms. Many women report that it has helped relieve their experience of hot flashes.

Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) is a plant used to increase oxygen flow to the liver, and it is thought to cure hot flashes by stabilizing the blood vessels. Liquorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is another common tool used by holistic medicine practitioners for hot flash stress relief. It has steroid components that have the ability to support estrogenic properties. Essential oils from herbs such as basil (Ocimum basilicum) and thyme (Thymus vulgaris) may also be used as a mild inhalant, or can be incorporated into a massage or bath oil.

Natural cures for hot flash and dizziness

Licorice Roots are often used as a natural dietary supplement cure for hot flashes. Photograph by Elena Ray.

The goal when undergoing treatment is to reduce both the severity and frequency of episodes; unfortunately no treatment technique is guaranteed to be successful. While lifestyle changes, easy hacks, holistic approaches – like the ones listed above – are worth trying and certainly may help, sometimes more extreme measures may be necessary, such as seeking a prescription from a doctor or even having to undergo hormone replacement therapy.

If natural therapies and lifestyle changes do not alleviate symptoms, consider speaking with a doctor to find out about more options and decide on the best course of action for you.

Estrogen replacement therapy is the most common medical treatment cure for how to stop night sweats and to give hot flash relief. Many symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats are caused by declining levels of the estrogen hormone in the body during the menopause, thus restoring estrogen levels to their norm can be very effective at reducing their incidence. In order to systemically circulate estrogen into the bloodstream and throughout the body, tablets, topical gels, patches, sprays, or injections can be used.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between hot flashes and night sweats?

Night sweats are essentially the experience of having hot flashes while sleeping. Hot flashes are the daytime equivalent of night sweats, and both have the same hormonal causes and presenting symptoms.

What can cause hot flashes and night sweats / What causes night sweats in women?

The most common cause of hot flashes and night sweats is a hormonal imbalance – typically depletion in estrogen. When estrogen levels change, the hypothalamus, which regulates body temperature, becomes confused and fires the 'wrong' signals to the rest of the body.

How long do hot flashes and night sweats last?

Both hot flashes and night sweats can change in severity, frequency, and duration from episode to episode. They can last anywhere from seconds to many minutes, and produce varying amounts of perspiration as well as other mentioned symptoms.

What about night sweats in men over 50?

Hot flash man symptoms are often caused by the use of medications, especially those used for the treatment of depression.

Is hot flash early pregnancy sign?

An incidence of hot flash while pregnant is common during early pregnancy, typically affecting 1 out every three women.

What can cause hot flashes and dizziness?

Dizziness is one of the effects that may be associated with having an hot flash, which is a result in changes in hormone levels, especially those involved in the control of, and of, estrogens.

Conclusion

Hot flashes and night sweats affect many people. Though not 'curable', they can be managed.

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan, and individuals should seek a personalized plan of action to achieve the best outcome.

Further Reading and References Used

Women still have hot flushes and night sweats years after the menopause

https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/understanding-hot-flashes#triggers

https://www.menshealth.com/health/truth-about-night-sweats

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_sweats

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/night-sweats

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