Night Sweats: Menopause or Lymphoma

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Although lymphoma and menopause both may produce night sweats, each condition has a variety of co-symptoms and risk factors. Furthermore, you may experience night sweats without going through menopause or having lymphoma. Menopause, characterized by a year-long disruption in your menstrual cycle, is a natural part of every woman's life and no need for alarm. Lymphoma, on the other hand, is a potentially fatal form of cancer. Therefore, night sweats that co-exist with other lymphoma symptoms must be evaluated by a doctor.

Night sweats.
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Menopause refers to the time in a woman's life in which her fertility ceases. Most women experience menopause in their late 40s or early 50s. Although menopause is often a time of physical and mental discomfort, it is not a "disease." Rather, menopause is a normal part of the female aging process. After menopause you will no longer have periods and, therefore, you will not be able to have children. In addition, your estrogen production will stop. As a result, you must remain physically active and watch what you eat, since the drop in estrogen will put you at a higher risk for heart disease and other conditions such as osteoporosis.

Woman in menopause age group.
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Lymphoma is defined as cancer of the body's lymphatic system. The two main forms of lymphoma are known as Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Each type of lymphoma has further sub-classifications that determine treatment and prognosis. Overall, lymphoma has a higher survival rate than many other cancers, but life expectancy varies based on what type of lymphoma you have. In general, 65 percent of people with non-Hodgkin lymphoma are still alive after five years, and 54 percent are alive after 10 years. The general life expectancy for Hodgkin lymphoma is 85 percent for 5 years and 81 percent for 10 years.

Microscopic view of lymphoma.
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Menopause only affects women, usually over the age of 45. The main immediate result of menopause is the cessation of periods. If you haven't had your period in a year and you are 45 or older, you probably are going through menopause. While some women who go through menopause experience night sweats, there are other menopause symptoms that are not typical of lymphoma. These symptoms include vaginal dryness, insomnia, hair growth on your face and moodiness. In addition to night sweats, many menopausal women have hot flashes during waking hours. People with lymphoma do not typically have hot flashes. Furthermore, people with lymphoma often have many symptoms that you would not find with menopause.

Menopause affects women over age 45.
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Although drenching night sweats often occur during lymphoma, it is not the most prevalent lymphoma symptom. Before night sweats, you are likely to notice a swollen lymph node in your collarbone, neck, groin or armpits. Unlike lymph node swelling due to an infection, lymphoma nodes are usually not tender to the touch. Other common lymphoma symptoms include excessive itchiness (far worse than dry skin), weight loss and fever. Symptoms like swollen lymph nodes and widespread itchiness are not typical of menopause.

Swollen nodes in neck should be checked by a doctor.
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If you have night sweats, you must look at your other symptoms to make a differential diagnosis. For instance, if you are a man or a woman in your 20s, you can obviously rule out menopause. Likewise, if you have already gone through menopause, you will probably not continue to experience menopausal symptoms years later. Furthermore, ensure that there are not other factors that may explain your night sweats. Hot weather, heavy blankets, flu and infection may all lead to night sweats. If your night sweats are accompanied by a swollen lymph node that does not hurt to the touch or any other lymphoma "b-symptoms" like itchiness, see a doctor. Since it is certainly possible to have lymphoma while going through menopause, see a doctor if you experience distinct symptoms of each condition.

Nurse with patient at home.
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