Hot flashes and night sweats are more than inconveniences: they could be symptoms of an illness. They could also be side effects of certain medications and treatments. In this article, we’ll be sharing a comprehensive list of possible causes and management protocols for these reoccurring issues. We’ll be tackling each issue individually, and then as symptoms that go hand in hand in some situations.
A hot flash is a sensation of heat that begins in the chest and/or face, accompanied by sweating and palpitations. In extreme cases, sufferers may feel dizzy and close to fainting. The person’s skin might even appear reddish and feel warm to the touch. Hot flashes happen throughout the day, and at night, they can cause extreme discomfort and sleeplessness. A warm day or being in a warm room might exacerbate the symptoms.
Ember flashes are hot flashes that last longer, building up for up to a period of half an hour, but are lower in intensity.
A lot of people associate hot flashes with menopause. But did you know that hot flashes could also happen to young women, and even males? What exactly causes hot flashes? Let’s find out.
There’s a wide variety of conditions that cause hot flashes, including, but not limited to:
If you experience hot flashes, consider paying your doctor a visit. Your course of treatment will depend on your doctor’s official diagnosis.
According to The North American Menopause Society, hormone therapy can be an effective way to alleviate the symptoms of menopause in women, and this includes hot flashes. High dosages of estrogen will be administered, plus an additional dosage of progestogen, if the uterus is still present. The treatment duration often lasts for 5 years or less, as increased dosages raise the risk of breast cancer and heart problems later. Hormone therapy is also highly discouraged in the presence of conditions such as osteoporosis.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy or BHRT focuses on finding hormones with a similar structure to the hormones that women’s bodies produce. These medications utilize plant-based or medically compounded products.
However, there is little evidence with regards to the risks and benefits of the procedure. As such, BHRT therapy is considered a form of alternative medicine.
In some cases, over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, and supplements such as Vitamin B complex and Vitamin E might be suggested by a doctor. Other prescription medications such as Gabapentin and Clonidine has provided relief for some women, and might be suggested by a doctor as an option.
Sometimes, the most obvious solution can provide the most relief. Dress lightly in the summer, choosing more breathable fabrics such as cotton and linen. During the winter, opt for more layers of clothing. Should a hot flash occur, you can simply remove one layer.
Choose highly-absorbent night time wear as well. Some women choose to wear breathable exercise clothing to sleep.
Acupuncture is a form of medicine known to many as the ancient system in which the skin is pricked to alleviate back pain, neck pain, headaches, and or migraines.
What most people don't know is that Acupuncture has also been known to help with hot flashes! This isn't an obvious solution, but Acupuncture may be worth look into if you suffer from hot flashes and or night sweats.
What you eat matters. According to a study done by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a Mediterranean-style diet composed largely of plant-based ingredients and red wine are 20% less likely to report adverse menopausal symptoms. On the flip side, a diet composed of sugary, processed foods are 20% more likely to induce the same symptoms, including hot flashes. If you’re having a sugar craving, choose fruits such as mangoes, strawberries, and pineapples instead of doughnuts and cake.
Smokers are also more likely to experience adverse menopausal symptoms than never smokers. If you smoke, hot flashes are another reason to quit as soon as possible. If you’re not a smoker, minimize your exposure to secondhand smoke.
Vigorous exercise may also help ease the intensity and occurrence of hot flashes. Activities such as cycling, swimming, or running help the body in temperature regulation.
There are a few herbal solutions available to those who want to take the more natural route to symptom management. According to the North American Menopause Society, the following herbal ingredients have been widely used to alleviate the discomfort caused by hot flashes:
•Evening Primrose Oil
However, it’s important to take only FDA-approved supplements. Consult with your doctor before starting any plant-based treatment regimen.
It’s important to pay attention to what triggers your hot flashes. Studies show that caffeine may worsen the onslaught of hot flashes, while for some, hot flashes happen right after the consumption of alcohol. Love spicy food? Try to cut down and monitor the effects.
The number one way to manage hot flashes is to maintain a comfortable temperature in your surroundings. A small, USB-powered desk fan at work might mean the difference between extreme discomfort and a manageable one. If you’re at home, keep the temperature lower, especially during the summer.
Scientifically known as “nocturnal hyperhidrosis”, night sweats is extreme perspiration during sleep. Keep in mind that to qualify as a condition, the occurrence of night sweats should not be related to the environmental temperature (e.g., sleeping in a warm room or being swaddled by thick blankets).
In and of itself, night sweats is considered harmless. However, it might be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. In such cases, it’s important to be checked by a medical professional as soon as possible.
There is a wide variety of conditions that might be causing night sweats, among them include:
•Hormone imbalances including menopause, diabetes, puberty, and pregnancy
•Gastroesophageal reflux disease
•Infection such as tuberculosis, osteomyelitis, or endocarditis
•Obstructive sleep apnea
•Cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia
If you experience night sweats, one of the first course of actions should be a checkup. Your course of treatment will depend on your doctor’s official diagnosis.
Whatever the cause of your night sweats may be, your choice of sheets can exacerbate the situation. A lot of people choose the comfort associated with sheets with a high thread count. However, these sheets have the tendency to trap heat, which then leads to extreme discomfort. If you suffer from night sweats, switch to cotton sheets with a lower thread count.
Choose comfortable cotton night wear as well. Keep your room temperature cool. If needed, buy a small fan that you can adjust to your direction.
As is the case with hot flashes, avoiding tobacco, sugar, caffeine, and spicy foods, and maintaining a regular vigorous exercise regime may help alleviate night sweats.
Depending on your diagnosis, the doctor might opt to have you switch the medications that could be causing the night sweats (e.g., certain antidepressants or aspirin). Night sweats caused by dips in blood glucose level at night might also merit a change in your insulin regimen. Night sweats caused by menopause and other hormonal changes might also require hormone therapy.
Anxiety is also a common culprit of night sweats. Anxiety induces an active stress response in the body, and worrying right before sleeping can induce a fight or flight response during sleep. Therapy is a common route for people who are suffering from anxiety. A therapist could help you cope well with stress. Some people find that meditation, especially before sleeping, helps with the symptoms of anxiety, including night sweats.
Conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea cause excessive night sweats. Obstructive sleep apnea can be caused by excess weight. If you are overweight, this is one more reason to take action. To lose weight, start by making healthier diet choices and a regular exercise regimen.
If you suffer from hyperhidrosis, normal antiperspirants simply won’t cut it. Ask your dermatologist for a clinical-grade antiperspirant that you could use before sleeping.
Drinking enough water contributes to your overall wellness. Night time sweating takes a toll on your body’s hydration, so keep a glass of water on your bedside table to drink should you wake up in the middle of the night. Water also cools down your core body temperature, which will help with the night sweats that accompany hot flashes.
Both hot flashes and night sweats are symptoms that point to some underlying cause. The first step to the management of these issues is a diagnosis. There is no one clear cut way to treat these conditions. Your doctor will design a treatment method that targets the problem that you have. What you can do for sure is to make better lifestyle choices in terms of diet, exercise, and stress management.
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Peekaboo! Barbara speaking. I'm currently the Chief Editor at Sleep Titan and my job is to make sure that the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed on all of our amazing content! The lovely people here at Sleep Titan often tell me that my Friendly Superpowers come out after a glass of wine, but personally, I prefer a strong IPA. The sort of strength that screams alpha all the way! Maybe that's the reason why everyone wants me to have a drink around here. Right?!