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While night sweats, the nocturnal cousin of hot flashes, can be uncomfortable and disruptive, they don't usually signal a more serious underlying condition. In fact, night sweats are one of the most common symptoms of menopause which typically begins in a woman's late 40s to early 50s. Scientific studies suggest that as many as 75% of menopausal women experience night sweats.
When a woman approaches menopause, she may have many questions about the potential symptoms, including night sweats. Understanding what to expect, why these symptoms occur, and how to manage them can help a woman best prepare for this transitional period. Keep reading to learn more about night sweats.
About Night Sweats
Night sweats, medically termed “sleep hyperhidrosis”, are episodes of nighttime sweating, which can range from mild to profuse. Night sweats are similar to the hot flashes that can affect menopausal women during the waking hours.
Oftentimes, night sweats can be so intense that they interrupt a woman's sleep, which can affect many aspects of her daily life. Common symptoms of night sweats include: sudden and intense heat, irregular heartbeat, nausea, flushing, chills, and headaches.
Women with menopause-related night sweats may experience anywhere from mild to severe symptoms of these night sweats, varying in duration, during their usual sleeping hours.
Who is affected?
Night Sweats and Sleep
The symptoms of night sweats can drastically disturb sleep patterns, making it difficult to get a good night's rest. Because of this, women who suffer from night sweats often experience:
Insomnia Sleep disorders Trouble concentrating Exhaustion Irritability Heightened levels of stress
Many women in their 40s and 50s develop night sweats, which often begin before the actual cessation of the menstrual cycle. One study found that approximately 19% of women aged 40 to 55 who still had regular periods experienced night sweats. Most women begin to develop symptoms three to ten years before actual menopause, during the span of time called perimenopause.
Research shows that not all women are affected the same. Age, race, and other factors can influence how likely a woman is to develop night sweats during menopause.
Age can affect a woman's experience of night sweats. One large study found that younger women are significantly more likely than older women to experience night sweats. Another found that only 10% of patients older than 64 experienced night sweats.
Studies have found that the prevalence of night sweats varies by race. One study found that 3 in 4 Caucasian women experience night sweats. Another found that African-American women were more likely to have night sweats than Caucasian or Hispanic women. Asian women where least likely to report night sweats.
Click here to learn more about night sweats, or continue reading below to learn what causes night sweats.
Fevers and night sweats both involve increased internal body temperature, excessive sweating, and flushing – so it can be hard to tell them apart. Keep reading to learn how to differentiate between the common menopause symptom and feverish infection to know how to solve the problem or when to seek medical attention.
Night sweats and hot flashes are frustrating, but they can be even worse if you believe the many myths associated with them. The rumors will make it feel like the heat will never go away and can lead you on an unhealthy track to recovery. Learn the facts about your symptoms and how to respond.
Causes of Night Sweats
Many women who experience night sweats want to know the reason behind this symptom of menopause. While the exact cause of night sweats is unknown, most experts point to hormonal imbalance as the primary culprit.
During menopause, levels of the hormone estrogen become erratic and eventually begin a steady and permanent decline. This change in estrogen levels affects the hypothalamus in the brain, which is responsible for the regulation of body temperature. As a result, the hypothalamus often prompts a series of physiological reactions, which women experience as hot flashes or night sweats.
While hormonal imbalance is by far the most common cause of night sweats in menopause, there are also rare medical causes, such as diabetes, anxiety, neurological conditions, sleep apnea, cancer, and thyroid disorder.
Night sweat triggers
Certain factors can intensify night sweats or make them more frequent. Avoiding these triggers can help to alleviate both hot flashes and night sweats.
Close proximity to bed partner
Saunas, tubs, hot showers
Hot or spicy foods
Alcohol or caffeine
Click here to find out more about the causes of night sweats, or continue reading below to learn more about treatments.
During pregnancy, it's pesky hormones that are responsible for your sweat-soaked nights. Those who've discovered that the experience is far less fun than it sounds can chill out once they've checked out this article. Top tips for keeping your cool tonight are just a click away.
Night sweating is unpleasant, disruptive to sleeping patterns, and can result in fatigue during the day. Sweats are often experienced by women as a symptom of menopause; however, other factors also act as triggers. Read on to learn how lifestyle habits influence the frequency and severity of night sweats.
Treatment of Night Sweats
Treatment of night sweats often begins with lifestyle changes that can help to reduce the frequency and severity of night sweats. This approach typically involves avoiding night sweats triggers, and taking steps to relieve stress and improve diet and exercise. For instance, tryptophan is an amino acid that helps aid in sleep and can be found in dairy products, nuts, and eggs, which all can help to encourage a good night of sleep.
While these lifestyle changes can help to relieve night sweats and improve sleep patterns, they are unable to get at the root cause of night sweats, which is hormonal imbalance.
Fortunately, alternative medicine treatments are available to safely and effectively correct hormonal imbalances with little or no risk. In fact, most experts recommend that women combine lifestyle changes with natural therapies to achieve relief from night sweats.
In extreme cases of night sweats, women may turn to more drastic measures, such as pharmaceutical or surgical options. These medical options are usually only advised if lifestyle changes and natural therapies do not help.
Most experts recommend that women who suffer from night sweats and wish to treat them begin with lifestyle changes, then move onto alternative medicines (ideally combining the two) and finally, look to drugs or surgery if nothing else is effective. Click on the following link to learn specific treatments for night sweats during menopause in these three categories.
Night sweats are an obstacle that prevent many women approaching menopause from enjoying peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. Although the cause of sweating episodes is primarily hormonal, a few small tweaks to habits and environment over just five days could significantly minimize the occurrence of night sweats.
Night sweating episodes are sleep-disruptive, sticky, and unpleasant. The symptom occurs during menopause primarily due to hormonal changes, but making alterations to diet is often key to reducing troubling menopause symptoms. Increasing intake of certain fruits, such as tomatoes and lemon, could help keep sweating episodes away.
- The National Institute of Health. “Signs of the Menopausal Transition” www.nih.gov
- Boston Women's Health Collective. “Hot Flashes, Night Sweats and Sleep Disturbances”. Our Bodies, Ourselves, 2006.
- Von Muhlen, DG, et al. “A community-based study of menopause symptoms and estrogen replacement in older women”. Maturitas. Sept 1995; 22(2):71-8.
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