What Are Hot Flashes and Night Sweats?


Quick Answer

Hot flashes are quick feeling of heat sometimes accompanied by a flushed, sweating face, states WebMD. Night sweats are sudden experiences of sweating that result in cool, damp skin.

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Full Answer

Hot flashes are the most common symptom of menopause, according to WebMD. They occur when blood vessels close to the surface of the skin dilate to cool. While some women only experience hot flashes for a short time during menopause, others may have them for life. Stress, caffeine and alcohol are triggers for hot flashes. To avoid hot flashes, women should exercise daily and keep their homes cool.

Night sweats also frequently occur during menopause and are not a medical problem on their own, but they can be a sign of other medical issues, such as cancer, notes WebMD. Lymphoma is the most common cancer associated with night sweats. Night sweats may also be a symptom of HIV or occur as a side effect of certain medications, such as niacin, tamoxifen and hydralazine. Neurological conditions, such as stroke and autonomic neuropathy, can sometimes lead to night sweats as well.

A doctor should be seen if night sweats occur on a regular basis or are accompanied by symptoms such as fever or unexplained weight loss, advises Mayo Clinic.

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