Hot flashes are defined as the transient sensations of heat, sweating, flushing and chills lasting for 1-5 minutes. Hot flashes are one of the most common complaints of the perimenopause and menopause, with up to 85% of menopausal women experiencing them. These are due in part, but not entirely, from estrogen depletion at menopause. Without estrogen there is an abnormal hypothalamic regulatory control resulting in hot flashes.
Night sweats and severe hot flashes occurring at night can drench your clothes and sheets and are not related to an overheated environment. While menopausal hot flashes are one of the most common causes of night sweats there are several other conditions that can lead to night sweats. Conditions associated with night sweats include; infections, such as tuberculosis, osteomyelitis, endocarditis and abscesses. Night sweats can be an early sign of some cancers. Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) can result in night sweats. Several hormone disorders such as hyperthyroid, carcinoid syndrome and adrenal tumors (pheochromocytoma) can also leads to nights sweats and severe hot flashes. Lastly, there is another condition called idiopathic hyperhidrosis, meaning excessive sweating from an unknown origin.
In summary, menopausal hot flashes can occur day or night. While menopausal hot flashes are the most common cause of flashes, one must be aware that several other medical conditions may be the etiology of severe hot flashes and night sweats.
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