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Difference Between Night Sweats and Hot Flushes

sleeping-beautyNight Sweats vs Hot Flushes

Hot flushes, or, as sometimes called, hot flashes, are two conditions that are mostly associated with women, especially during the menopausal stage. It usually affects about 80% of women. Hot flushes are the quick, and unexpected, sensation of heat in the upper body. It usually comes from the toes, ascending to the abdomen, chest, back and head. It makes the face, neck, upper arms, torso or the whole body turn red. It may even occur with perspiration. The occurrence may range from mild to intense, and involves other sensations such as heart palpitations, anxiety and a sense of panic or dread. There are some who may chill after the hot flush. For other women, it may become a regular occurrence during the day or night.

Hot flushes happen as a reaction to estrogen deficiency in the blood vessels of the skin. These blood vessels dilate, causing an increased local blood flow. It is not the loss of estrogen, but the sudden drop of estrogen hormones. The thermostat of the brain, which is the hypothalamus, gets confusing hot or cold signals. This indecisive state, causes the unpredictable and irregular expansion and contraction of blood vessels. Therefore, the heat and flush starts, and sweating is the defense mechanism to counterbalance the increasing temperature of the body. It may last between 1 and 5 minutes. For other women, it can continue for some months or years. This may be activated by hot water bottles, heavy blankets, tea, coffee and spicy food. To fight off hot flushes, you should wear natural fabrics, use a portable fan for cooling down, prepare moist tissues to freshen up, and try to relax if you can. Hormone replacement therapy also stabilizes hot flushes.

Night sweats are hot flushes that happen at night, but it could be more distressing if it happens during the day, though this is rarely the case. Some women are disturbed from their sleep, and, as a result, they encounter insomnia because of difficulty in going back to sleep. This can advance to tiredness and forgetfulness. It causes perspiration at the back of the head and chest. It could moisten pillows and sheets, as well as sleep wear. It occurs from time to time without any underlying medical condition.

Some causes of night sweating are menopause (in women), infections, medications (such as antipyretic drugs, aspirin and acetaminophen) and idiopathic hyperhidrosis. Idiopathic hyperhidrosis is a condition in which the body is profusely producing sweat, without any particular medical cause. The symptoms of night sweats include unexpected and intense heat, irregular heartbeat, nausea, flushing, chills, and headaches. When a person is experiencing night sweats, it is suggested that he/she use cotton sheets, and prepare spare clothes for bed. The wearing of light weight cotton, or silk bed attire, is preferable. Perhaps one would consider not wearing anything at all! Try to avoid drinking alcoholic drinks, or coffee, late at night, as it can cause night sweating.


1. Hot flushes happen unexpectedly, anytime of the day, while night sweats happen usually at night.

2. A Hot flush is a heated sensation in the upper body. Night sweats are profuse perspiration at the back of the head and chest.

3. In the case of hot flushes, if the cause is decreasing estrogen, stabilizing the cause, or hormonal therapy will prevent it from happening, while for night sweats, only the avoidance of heat producing materials or food, will lessen the occurrence.

4. Hot flushes may advance to anxiety and heart palpitations, while night sweats may result to insomnia.

5. Hot flushes turn the face or whole body red, while night sweats are moistening the body with perspiration.

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