Night sweats are characterized by excessive sweating at night while sleeping. It stops as soon as the person wakes up. Some women may experience it as too much of sweating only in certain parts of the body like the hands, feet and underarms. Others may sweat so profusely that the clothing and bedding get soaked up completely. The medical term for night sweats is nocturnal hyperhidrosis or sleep hyperhidrosis. Night sweats are often accompanied by many other symptoms such as sudden feeling of intense heat or hot flashes that last for a few minutes, irregular heartbeat, headache, nausea, frequent urination, etc. All these symptoms make her so uncomfortable that her night's sleep may get disrupted.
In most women over the age of 40, it is a menopause symptom. In other words, it is triggered by the hormonal changes that takes place in their body during this period. As she approaches menopause, the level of the main female hormone estrogen decreases steadily. This has an adverse impact on the hypothalamus present in the brain which regulates the body temperature. Due to the abnormal functioning of the hypothalamus, she starts sweating excessively at night. It can be caused by other hormonal problems such as hyperthyroidism where excess amount of thyroid hormones is produced by overactive thyroid glands. Those who are diabetic may face this problem because of sudden drop in blood sugar levels. It is referred to as hypoglycemia. It could be a symptom of more serious diseases such as AIDS or a form of cancer called lymphoma. Anemia, low blood pressure, various forms of infection, mental stress, side effects of some medicines are some of the other possible causes.
When you are suffering from night sweats persistently, you must consult your doctor. They conduct a thorough diagnosis in order to ascertain the exact cause behind it. For this, your medical history, lifestyle and the medicines that you use are taken into consideration. If any underlying health problem is identified, then it is treated properly to provide relief from nocturnal hyperhidrosis. In case, it is a side effect of any medicine that you are taking, then that particular medicine is either stopped or changed.
To counter the symptoms, hormone replacement therapy is proved to be highly beneficial for many women. During this treatment, certain female hormones are given in low doses to the patient. It could be administered in the form of pills or vaginal creams or patch. It boosts up the hormone levels in her body and she gets relief from hot flashes at night.
When the intensity of the symptoms are not so severe, no treatment is required. Doctors only suggest some lifestyle changes to keep the problem in check. It includes sleeping in a cool bedroom and wearing light, comfortable sleeping clothes made of natural fabrics. A cold shower just before bedtime and drinking cold milk or fruit juice also helps.
Every woman who is undergoing menopause does not experience sleep hyperhidrosis. In fact, women in their 40s can prevent it by following a healthy lifestyle. You have to keep a close watch on the foods that you eat. Fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, soy milk and fish are some of the foods that help to relieve night sweats. Spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol should be strictly avoided in this condition. Regular aerobic exercises can bring down the frequency and hot flashes to a large extent.