Hot flashes and night sweats are common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause that affect about 75 percent of women for seven to nine years.
What is the Difference Between Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
Hot flashes are not the same as night sweats. Although both are uncomfortable menopausal vasomotor symptoms, they are two different things.
The main difference between the two is that hot flashes can occur at any time of the day or night, while night sweats only happen while sleeping.
Hot flashes feel like an intense feeling of heat that spreads through the face, neck, or chest and may produce a short period of sweating.
Night sweats, on the other hand, produce copious sweating in the back of the head and chest area that can start slowly and then decline gradually, making it last much longer than a hot flash.
Moreover, hot flashes may sometimes be accompanied by anxiety or heart palpitations. Night sweats usually disturb sleep and may lead to insomnia.
What Causes Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
Like other symptoms of menopause, hot flashes and night sweats happen because estrogen and progesterone have dropped, which means hormone replacement therapy can effectively treat these unwanted changes in your body’s temperature.
Differences in menopause experience mean that some people experience symptoms such as hot flashes or night sweats that gradually increase over time, and others will have a sudden onset of symptoms.
Unfortunately, we don’t yet understand the science behind hot flashes. The way they suddenly come on can be exasperating for the people experiencing them and researchers who want to study them.
Nevertheless, we do understand some things about menopause and its symptoms.
Hot flashes and night sweats seem to happen because your body’s temperature regulation system, the hypothalamus, is overreacting to changes in the temperature around you because menopause has changed it.
Closely monitoring the temperature in your environment might help reduce hot flashes, but this isn’t always possible.
How to Manage Hot Flashes
Managing these menopause symptoms through lifestyle changes is often more complex than other symptoms, but wearing lightweight layers may help. Some companies make personal cooling devices and moisture-wicking clothes, which may help alleviate your hot flashes.
Bed fans are an option if you struggle with night sweats.
Deep breathing. The more you breathe, the better. Breathing is one way that we can release tension and stress in our bodies when they are feeling tight or tense; it has been shown as an effective technique for reducing hot flashes because deep breathing causes your heart rate to slow down while at the same time increasing oxygen levels throughout different parts of one’s system
Diet can also play a role in your hot flashes.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables gives your body plenty of fiber, which is necessary for regulation.
Consider nuts and whole grains that contain phytoestrogens to reduce symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes.
Soy also has plenty of isoflavonoids, so you’ll see it recommended if you have severe hot flashes.
The Mediterranean diet might also help reduce the frequency or intensity of these menopause symptoms.
Spicy foods, coffee, caffeine, and foods with high fat and sugar contents may all trigger your hot flashes, so limit them from your diet as much as possible. Cold water before bed might help if you’re concerned about night sweats.
Other Causes of Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
Menopause isn’t the only cause of temperature fluctuations.
Some people whose bodies poorly regulate temperature may have thyroid concerns or certain cancers. Other conditions and infections, including autonomic neuropathy, autoimmune disorders, carcinoid tumors, sleep apnea, and Takayasu’s arteritis, can all cause night sweats.
Some medications can also make you feel hotter or sweat more. This includes cancer treatment, methadone, hypoglycemic agents. SSRIs, which are commonly taken for anxiety and depression, are known to increase sweating.
Risk factors such as smoking, alcohol or drug use, and obesity can cause hot flashes, even if you’re not going through menopause. Black women are more likely to experience hot flashes than other people. If you’re prone to hot flashes or night sweats, consider reducing caffeine and spicy food consumption and regulating the temperature in your environment as much as possible.
Hormones for Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
A combination of estrogen and progesterone can be effective for many women suffering from menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.
Hormone replacement therapy can also benefit some of the other symptoms of menopause.
Osteoporosis, for example, happens because lower levels of estrogen, which is necessary to build bone, lead to bone loss. Vaginal dryness, heart disease, and genital symptoms may also decrease with hormone replacement therapy.
BHRT, or bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, is a newer hormone therapy that uses slightly different hormones more likely to match the ones your body makes naturally.
BHRT is a popular topic among doctors because it is a safer and more effective alternative to traditional hormone therapy. BHRT can help to improve symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats, and can also help to prevent osteoporosis. In addition, BHRT can help to increase libido, energy levels, and memory.
If you are interested in trying BHRT to help manage your menopausal symptoms, contact us at Renew Health and Wellness to learn more about how BHRT can help you.
We are here to help
If you’re annoyed with hot flashes or night sweats, it’s time to schedule an appointment with one of our experts at Renew Health and Wellness to find relief from your menopausal symptoms.