Night sweats are episodes of excessive night time sweating in spite of the temperature around you.
It is a fairly common problem, with many people experiencing them from time to time.
Night sweating usually isn’t considered a serious medical concern, however, it can be uncomfortable when it occurs regularly or interferes with sleep.
Night sweats can be a side effect of certain medications such as antidepressants, hypoglycemic agents, temperature-regulating medications or hormone therapy.
Many women also experience night sweating during menopause.
In some cases, underlying medical conditions can lead to night sweats, such as infections, cancer, nervous system disorders, or problems with the body’s endocrine (hormone-producing) system.
It’s always important to get symptoms checked out by your doctor to be sure that they aren’t a sign of something more serious.
For people experiencing night sweats, acupuncture can offer relief.
Typically with complaints like night sweats, there will be other accompanying symptoms relating to our body temperature, our appetite and digestion, our energy and our sleep.
These symptoms help an acupuncturist to determine which pattern of imbalance is the true cause of the complaint.
From a Western medical perspective they may all be lumped together as the same condition (such as “headaches” or “insomnia”), whereas in Chinese medicine the condition will be broken down into a number of different types based on the underlying imbalance.
Knowing the specific imbalance helps us to treat the problem very effectively and resolve the symptoms.
With night sweating, there are a few different patterns of imbalance that can be at work.
The most common pattern involved in night sweating is a yin deficiency, often combined with too much internal heat.
With this type of pattern, the night sweats would be frequent with a tendency to feel warmer in the later afternoon, reddening of the cheeks, heat in the chest and hot hands and feet.
Night sweating can also be due to a heart blood deficiency, with night sweating that is accompanied by symptoms of heart palpitations, insomnia, pale complexion, shortness of breath and fatigue.
A third type of night sweating is due to spleen qi-energy deficiency with internal damp accumulation, leading to night sweats with headaches with a “head full of cotton” feeling, heavy limbs, poor appetite and slippery or slimy feeling in the mouth.
As you can see, with night sweats there are a number of different situations that can occur.
By determining which type of pattern is at the root of the problem, acupuncture can help the body to correct the imbalance and resolve the symptoms.
Treatments can help to rebalance the body, which will in turn begin to resolve the night sweats.
In addition, acupuncture can help improve and resolve accompanying symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, appetite, headaches, or poor sleep.
It is simply a matter of redirecting the body’s energy and to encourage the body’s own natural healing processes.
James Kaufman is a registered acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St., in downtown Kelowna.