Profuse sweating is usually associated with hot weather and intense workouts. But if a person is 40 or more years old, and he notices that he regularly wakes up on wet sheets, his palms are always sweaty, this may be due to a special health condition (climax), taking certain medications, diabetes mellitus or other pathologies.
“Excessive sweating is not always a sign of a hormonal imbalance,” emphasizes Lauren Streicher, MD, medical director of the Northwestern Center for Medicine, Intimate Health and Menopause. “There are other reasons why women and men experience unpredictable or excessive sweating.” If the habitual sweating pattern has changed, Streicher recommends seeing a doctor to find out what’s going on.
Let’s talk about the 7 most common causes of this physiological trouble.
When menopause approaches, women often experience hot flashes that resemble a fire inside.
- Intense heat originates in the chest and rises to the neck and head.
- Usually, the skin turns red, and there is profuse sweating.
- Some women experience a sudden feeling of warmth and clouding of consciousness without sweating.
- While others experience such intense sweating that they need a change of clothes or bedding.
Hot flashes are caused by hormonal fluctuations that can start at any time in your 50s. Most often, menopause (the period in a woman’s life when menstrual bleeding stops forever), usually occurs between 45 and 55 years.
US doctor Heather Kerry, a gynecologist and menopausal specialist, claims that 85% of women experiencing menopause have hot flashes. The unpleasant symptoms that accompany menopause can be mild, moderate, or severe. Some women will only experience them for a few months. For others, hot flashes may occur many times a day for several years.
According to the North American Menopause Society, the changes that cause nighttime hot flashes last 4 to 8 years. With the most unfavorable course of menopause, hot flashes sometimes occur more than 30 times a day.
“Hot flashes can make a big difference in some women’s lives,” says Dr. Kerry. They cause various troubles, including psychological difficulties. Nighttime hot flashes lead to fatigue and irritability the next day due to lack of sleep.”
Hot flashes and increased sweating are caused by a decrease in the hormone estrogen. When menstrual bleeding stops, estrogen levels drop quite dramatically. This change in the hormonal profile affects the centers of the brain responsible for thermoregulation, of which the sweating mechanism is a part.
- To ease the symptoms of menopause, experts suggest making positive lifestyle changes.
- Work on your weight. Women who are overweight or obese are more likely to have hot flashes.
- Do fitness. Regular exercise reduces the frequency of hot flashes.
- Do not smoke. Several studies have demonstrated an association of smoking with hot flashes. And one recent study found that «experienced smokers» were four times more likely to develop hot flashes than women who had never smoked.
- Eliminate alcohol. Cutting back on alcoholic beverages may improve symptoms during menopause and reduce the risk of breast cancer after menopause.
- Pay attention to potential triggers. Like alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods can cause hot flashes in some women.
Side effects of certain drugs
“There is a very long list of drugs that can cause excessive sweating,” says Streicher. Pain medications, certain heart and blood pressure medications, and antidepressants are among those that cause sweating as a side effect. Women over 40 are often prescribed them.
According to the US National Center for Health Statistics, 23% of women aged 40 to 50 use antidepressants. This is much more common than in any other age group of men or women. And 22% of all people who take antidepressants complain of excessive sweating, according to statistics from the International Hyperhidrosis Society.
If there is a suspicion that medications a person is taking are to blame for excessive sweating, discuss the unpleasant effect with your doctor. Perhaps he will suggest an alternative drug that will not cause unwanted side effects.
Low blood sugar is one of the most common causes of excessive sweating, according to Grat Karanukian, a US medical practitioner who specializes in hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating.
Not all cases of low blood sugar mean that the patient has diabetes. But anyone is at additional risk of developing the disease by age 45. If he does not play sports, is overweight, visceral obesity, there is an even greater chance of developing insulin resistance and developing type 2 diabetes.
To prevent diabetes, and at the same time excessive sweating, you need to stabilize your glucose levels by following a special diet and exercising regularly. They must be recommended by a doctor.
An overactive thyroid gland
Hyperthyroidism (or an overactive thyroid gland) speeds up the metabolism and can cause weight loss, irregular heartbeats, and excessive sweating. Thyroid disorders, which often manifest in women around the age of 40, can cause menopausal symptoms and even hasten the onset of menopause, according to data published by the Health Library at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
“Infections are not always obvious,” Streicher says. “For example, someone may have undiagnosed tuberculosis, with the only manifestation of the disease being excessive sweating.”
A fairly rare condition today, osteomyelitis (a bone infection) can also cause excessive sweating, according to scientists at the Cleveland Clinic. Bacterial infections that cause endocarditis, or inflammation of the heart valves, are accompanied by profuse night sweats.
Sleep disturbances are also accompanied by excessive sweating. Excessive sweating is a common symptom of sleep apnea. It is characterized by blockage of the airways, respiratory arrest. This pathology is more common in men than in women. However, the risk of sleep apnea increases as you approach menopause. Moreover, the symptoms in the fair sex may differ from those in men, according to experts from the American National Sleep Foundation (National Sleep Foundation).
Rarely, night sweats can be an early sign of lymphoma.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 32,000 women in the US each year are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the risk of which increases with age. Its symptoms, in addition to excessive sweating, are:
- swollen lymph nodes;
- weight loss;
- chest pain and difficulty breathing.
If these symptoms are observed, you should immediately consult a doctor.
Gynecology. National leadership / Ed. G. M. Savelyeva, G. T. Sukhikh, I.B. Manukhin — 2013
General medical practice / Acad. RAMN I.N. Denisova, prof. O.M. Lesnyak. — 2013