Sweating excessively during the night, even when the surrounding is not too hot is termed as night sweats or hot flashes. However, sweating while sleeping in an unusually hot room is quite normal, and is not considered a medical condition. Sometimes, night sweats can be a harmless condition, but occasionally, it could be a sign of certain health problems, some of which can be quite serious.
Women, in particular can experience this condition while approaching menopause. But sometimes, it can be related with some serious medical conditions, like tuberculosis, endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valves), osteomyelitis (inflammation within the bones due to infection), hypoglycemia, hormonal disorders like hyperthyroidism, pheochromocytoma, and carcinoid syndrome, and cancer, especially lymphoma.
Certain medications, especially antipyretics like acetaminophen, antidepressant medications, niacin, tomoxifen, hydralazine, and cortisone medications can also cause hot flashes. Hot flashes can also be associated with a condition, known as 'idiopathic hyperhidrosis', which is characterized by the production of excess sweat during night. What causes this condition is still not known. Apart from these, hot flashes can be a symptom of HIV/AIDS.
The treatment of this condition depends on the underlying causes. For example, treatment for night sweats caused by cancer can be quite different from the treatment that is employed for hot flashes caused by tuberculosis or conditions other than cancer. So, only a physician can design a proper treatment plan for this condition by finding out the root cause.
Hot flashes experienced by women during menopause can be treated with hormone replacement therapy. On the other hand, if hot flashes are caused due to the intake of certain medications, then it can be cured easily by discontinuing the particular medicine or replacing it with some other medication. However, this should be done only with the approval of your physician.
A few changes in your lifestyle, along with the inclusion of certain herbs and food in your diet can help manage this condition. It is important to quit smoking, and restrict the intake of caffeine and alcohol to reduce the occurrence of hot flashes. Smoking and an excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeinated beverages can aggravate hot flashes. On the other hand, you can practice yoga, meditation, or any other stress reduction technique to manage the level of stress, which in turn can prove effective in treating hot flashes naturally.
Herbs that contain phytoestrogens, like black cohosh, sage, chaste berry, motherwort, flaxseed, dong quai, and herbal tea, especially chamomile tea may also help manage this condition, especially if it is associated with menopause. Soy and soy products like soy milk and tofu, fresh fruits, whole grains and green vegetables can be included in the diet, if you are suffering from this condition.
Though these herbs may help treat hot flashes, it is important to consult a physician, if you are experiencing excessive sweating during nighttime without any apparent reason. Only a physician can ascertain the underlying causes, and rule out the possibility of serious health problems. Moreover, certain herbs can cause serious side effects, if taken excessively, for which they should be taken only under the supervision of a certified health care provider. Lastly, maintain proper ventilation in the room where you sleep, and if possible, use sleepwear and bedding made of light fabric like cotton.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.