Regularly awakening during the night to find yourself covered in sweat is bound to cause discomfort and disruption to your well-being. Night sweats are an affliction that many suffer with, and regular episodes can result in exhaustion and self-consciousness about personal hygiene. To avoid sweats from impeding your lifestyle, it is important to find a solution to them. Given that sweating is symptomatic of other conditions as opposed to being a condition in itself, it can be difficult to understand how best to treat them. Read on for advice about reducing night sweats.
Treating night sweats through medication essentially means treating what is causing night sweating because sweats are a symptom, not a condition. Night sweating can be symptomatic of a number of conditions, including low blood sugar, drug abuse, fever, cancer, thyroid disorders, or other infections. Night sweating can also occur as a side effect of other medications. The variety of possible causes of your night sweats mean that it is important to scrutinize other symptoms you are experiencing, and arrange to consult with your doctor for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
If you are a woman in your 40s or 50s, the most likely cause of your night sweats is menopause. Hormonal changes that take place prior to menopause cause a woman's body to suddenly detect increased internal temperature and then react to cool down, by producing sweat. By day, these are termed hot flashes; nocturnally, night sweats. Other menopause symptoms, such as irregular periods and mood swings, could also indicate that your night sweats are derived from menopausal changes.
Some women assume that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the solution to menopausal night sweats. HRT is the artificial implementation of hormones to replace those lost in the body during menopause, and has been found effective in minimalizing some unpleasant symptoms, including night sweats. However, HRT is not without risks. The 2002 study by the Women's Health Institute (WHI) revealed tangible links between the use of HRT and the risks of developing other serious illnesses, including cancer. For this reason, it is advisable to consider HRT only after attempting alternative therapies to reduce night sweats, of which there are many.
Cutting back on alcohol, caffeine, and spicy food intake during the evening is the first step in combating night sweats, as these are all triggers that raise internal body temperature and make sweating during the night more likely. As an alternative to coffee, try drinking sage tea, as the herb has sweat-relieving properties that could naturally reduce the symptom.
You should also avoid other temperature-increasing activities within two hours of going to bed, including exercising, hot baths, and saunas, to avoid increasing the likelihood of sweating during the night.
Another preventative to night sweating is to ensure your sleeping environment is cool and ventilated; avoid using central heating or heavy blankets, and keep a small window open while you sleep. Either sleep naked or wear loose, breathable nightwear that does not restrict the skin and allows sweat to evaporate.
While you search for the solution to your night sweats, it is also vital to be aware of washing carefully, shaving your armpits, and applying antiperspirant to prevent sweating episodes causing body odor. When treating sweats, it is important to identify exactly what's causing them in order to establish the safest and most effective means of treating them. As a rule, it's advisable to attempt lifestyle adjustments before opting for more drastic medication, as these are convenient, natural, and likely to boost overall health as well as treating the symptom. Navigate the links below to learn everything about night sweats and how to treat them.
- National Health Service UK. (2012). Night Sweats. Retrieved on February 18, 214, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/night-sweats/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- National Institutes of Health. (2011). Hormone Therapy: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved on February 18, 214, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007111.htm