Night Sweats

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Introduction to night sweats

Doctors in primary care fields of medicine often hear their patients complain of night sweats as they are common. Night sweats refer to any excess sweating occurring during the night. However, if your bedroom is unusually hot or you are using too many bedclothes, you may begin to sweat during sleep - and this is normal. In order to distinguish night sweats that arise from medical causes from those that occur because one's surroundings are too warm, doctors generally refer to true night sweats as severe hot flashes occurring at night that can drench sleepwear and sheets, which are not related to an overheated environment.

In one study of 2267 patients visiting a primary care physician, 41% reported experiencing night sweats during the previous month, so the perception of excessive sweating at night is fairly common. It is important to note that flushing (a warmth and redness of the face or trunk) may also be hard to distinguish from true night sweats.

What are the causes of night sweats in women, men, and children?

There are many different causes of night sweats. To determine what is causing night sweats in a particular patient, a doctor must obtain a detailed medical history and order tests to decide if an underlying medical condition is responsible for the night sweats.

Although many people associate menopause with night sweats, this is only one cause of night sweats in women. Many other conditions can cause night sweats in men, women, or children.

The following are some of the known conditions that can cause night sweats.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/1/2013

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Menopause Symptoms: Emotional, Physical, and Sexual

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Menopause symptoms can be perceived as physical problems, emotional disturbances, or problems associated with sexual functioning.

Physical symptoms of menopause include:

  • "Hot flashes" - sudden waves of mild or intense body heat
  • Night sweats - similar to hot flashes that occur at night and result in profuse sweating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Increasing variability of the menstrual cycle, including irregular and missed periods
  • Decreased bone density (occurring later in the menopausal transition), potentially leading to osteoporosis and fractures.

Emotional symptoms may include:

  • Mood changes
  • Anxiety
  • Forgetfulness or problems with focus and concentration

Sexual symptoms may result from increasing dryness and thinning of the vaginal wall, leading to pain or discomfort during intercourse.

If you are experiencing menopause symptoms, you doctor can advise you about ways you can relieve and manage these symptoms.

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