Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Do night sweats mean I'm experiencing early menopause?"
I'm a 41-year-old woman. I've never had children, and I've always had regular periods and still do. Several times in the last year, I've woken up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. I don't feel hot, just damp enough that I need to change the t-shirt I'm sleeping in. I keep my house a pretty constant 68 to 72 degrees, so I'm not sweating because of a change in external temperature. It just happens one time and then doesn't happen again for a few weeks or even a month or two. I'm only familiar with night sweats as a sign of menopause (or something you have when you are really sick with a flu and fever). Is this is a sign of early menopause? Are there other possible causes?
Night sweats, especially those which require that you change your t-shirt, can have several causes, and all of them should be evaluated by your doctor. Because these causes fall under the treatment spectrum's of several specialties, the best doctor for you to see first is a primary care physician such as an internal medicine doctor. When a physician first hears night sweats, the first two things that need ruled out (because they are dangerous to your health) is a malignancy such as lymphoma, and an infection. The most famous infection that causes night sweats is tuberculosis, which is only seen in Americans that have traveled to Asia, Africa, or South America. Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer. Many lymphomas are either very treatable or curable, and thus, it is important to rule this out first. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can take a more detailed history of your symptoms and perform a thorough physical exam. You may have to have blood tests for certain hormones to determine if you are having early menopause, which could explain your symptoms. You may also need to have a CT scan of your chest abdomen and pelvis to rule out a more rare blood disorder such as lymphoma. Finally, if you have a history of travel to a foreign country, you should be tested for tuberculosis. Good luck.
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