Night Sweats -Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment
What are Night Sweats
Night sweats are episodes of nighttime sweating which can soak your hair; nightclothes and bedding even though the room is cool. This is a common problem for many people at least occasionally and while night sweats are uncomfortable, they aren’t typically a sign of a medical problem. Women have this problem more often then men due to menopause.
I have experienced this problem, waking up with my face, hair and pillow wet and sometimes my gown along with the sheets, and it really is aggravating to me. It is not due to menopause in my case and my doctor has no clue as to why this happens. I am glad to report it happens only rarely.
The Hypothalamus Causes the Problem
For the more technically minded individual, the brain is ultimately responsible for night sweats (sleep hyperhidrosis). The hypothalamus should control the body temperature (thermoregulation). Its job is to send a message to the pituitary gland. When the hypothalamus doesn’t function properly due to some problem, it sends the wrong messages to the pituitary, which communicates with the rest of the body. Messages are sent to the rest of the body causing sweat glands go into overtime and work to cool you down, even when you’re not hot.
Night sweats is a common perspiration disorder that occurs during sleep and stops upon waking. Night sweats involve not simply sweating a lot at night, but literally drenching the bed. A healthy person produces between 500 and 1,000 cc of sweat each day. A person with a perspiration disorder will produce much more.
Night Sweat Triggers
There are some triggers that can cause this problem:
- Spicy foods
- Hypoglycemic agents that decrease blood sugar
- Hormone therapy –medications that regulate the amount of hormones in your body
- Menopause and hot flashes
Peri-menopause can be the problem as less progesterone is like losing your Valium as your estrogen and progesterone are being depleted. Weight loss along with night sweats can be a cause for concern. The worst-case scenario is you may have cancer or diabetes. See a doctor if these sweats occur on a regular basis, interrupt your sleep or if you also have a fever and other symptoms.
For men, many doctors believe they will have night sweats due to the andropause phase which is similar to the better known menopause experienced by women.
Diseases that can Cause Night Sweats
There are several diseases that can also cause night sweats, such being on chemotherapy as it depletes the estrogen, HIV, ADS, autonomic neuropathy, chronic sinusitis, brucellosis (bacterial infection), endocarditis, tuberculosis, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, sleep apnea, hypothalamic lesions, epilepsy, stroke, cerebral palsy, migraine, spinal cord infarction, head injury, familial dysautomia and several types of medications. Sometimes no cause can be determined.
Possible Helpful Natural Remedies
There isn’t a specific treatment for night sweats unless they are due to an underlying disease but, there a few things that might help alleviate the symptoms. Flaxseed powder and flaxseed oil are both helpful. Flaxseed powder is thought to turn on the estrogen receptors just enough to keep them calm. Licorice root extract and you can just take just a couple of droplets, which can be put in tea. It can reduce hot flashes significantly.
Herbal remedies for women with hot flashes include:
- Plants that cool the system, such as chickweed, elder and violet;
- Plants that nourish or increase oxygen utilization in the liver, such as dong quai, dandelion, Ho Shou Wu (polygonum multiflorum) and yellow dock; and
- Plants rich in phytosterols, such as black cohosh.
Product Features on Amazon Display
There is some sleepwear called NiteSweatz that is advertised as being more comfortable. There are several types of bedding that should also help from sheets, pillows to blankets
Wicking Sheets come in all sizes and might be helpful.
- Made from patented Dri-Release Fabric that is moisture Wicking and Quick Drying.
- King Size comes with 2 king size pillow cases
- King = 78" X 80" -- 112" X 102"
- Stay Cool Sheets - Dri-Release Moisture Wicking Sheets made by Nidraa
There are also cool comforters that you might find helpful.
- Outlast Cal-King Comforter: 110" x 100"
- Made with Outlast technology: Not Too hot, Not Too Cool!
- Temperature regulating comforter that will help you sleep cool
- Outlast Gold Certified
- Sleep Cooler - Sleep Better with CoolingMattress.com Bedding
Symptom - Fever and Night Sweats
Obviously if you can eliminate the cause that is the best way to treat night sweats. Sometimes they must be eliminated one at a time. If there is no cause forthcoming, you may suffer from Primary Hyperhydrosis. This disorder can become severe enough to interfere with your daily life and can eventually consist of day time sweating as well. If it becomes severe enough you doctor may suggest surgery to remove your sweat glands.
As this disease quite often is not easy to diagnosis, it would be worth making some lifestyle changes, such as cutting out the coffee, alcohol or spicy foods to see if it helps. Trying flax seed or some of the herbal remedies is also an option. There is some more comfortable night clothing that can be purchased, along with the bedding that helps to cool the body. Night sweats, which wake you up because you are soaking wet are not fun if they happen frequently and are interconnected with another disease, then you need to know.
© 2010 Pamela Oglesby
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