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What Causes Night Sweats? When to Worry about Night Sweats

night sweats causes and treatment

What Causes Night Sweats? When to Worry about Night Sweats

Medically reviewed by Dr. Mavra Farrukh

Overview

The term “night sweats” refers to excessive sweating, or perspiration, during the night. Many people find them uncomfortable and may experience depression and difficulty sleeping as a result. In the study, 41% of the 2267 patients reported experiencing night sweats within the past month, 23% with pure night sweats, and 18% with both day and night sweats. Women and men aged 41 to 55 were most likely to experience night sweats.

This article may help you if you want to know more about night sweats and its symptoms and causes.

What are Night Sweats?

Night sweats, or nocturnal hyperhidrosis, is the occurrence of excessive sweating or heavy perspiration during sleep. This condition is heavy enough to soak your clothes or bedding at night. Night sweats can cause discomfort and may be associated with depression, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. They are also common symptoms of menopause. If it occurs on a regular basis or is accompanied by symptoms like weight loss or fever, then you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Causes of Night Sweats in Women

Perimenopause or Menopause

The condition is also known as hot flashes during the day. When women go through menopause, they often experience night sweats. Changes in hormone levels, including estrogen and progesterone, affect the action of other hormones that are responsible for regulating the body’s temperature. Many factors affect menopausal symptoms, and their severity can vary significantly from one person to another, as well as within a single individual. Shivering, excessive sweating and red scars on the skin are common symptoms of menopause night sweats. Their duration usually ranges from a couple of minutes to ten minutes; however, they can occur several times an hour to many times per month.

Non-menopausal Condition

Women who are on their menstrual cycle or pregnant may experience night sweats. Night sweats can occur at different times during a woman’s menstrual cycle. In pregnancy, sweating peaks around week 30, while postpartum sweating occurs two weeks after delivery.

Ovarian Failure

Ovarian failure occurs when the ovaries no longer function generally before a woman turns 40. In some women, it can cause early menopause symptoms like night sweats and hot flashes. Hence, women with ovarian failure can experience night sweats from time to time.

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What Causes Night Sweats in Men?

Infections 

People having an infection that has spread throughout their bodies may experience night sweats. Diseases like tuberculosis and HIV are most commonly associated with night sweats. Other bacterial infections, such as endocarditis, abscesses, and osteomyelitis, can also cause night sweats in men. 

Chronic Sweating and Drug Abuse

As a result of idiopathic hyperhidrosis, the body continuously produces excessive amounts of sweat. Most of the time, this excessive sweating is without identifiable environmental or medical factors. Also, this chronic sweating may be caused by extensive usage of alcohol, cocaine, or heroin.

Hormone Disorder 

Problems in the hormone-producing glands can also cause excessive night sweating. Excess or lack of hormones such as serotonin can result in sweating. Besides, hormonal diseases such as overactive diabetes and endocrine tumors can also lead to excessive night sweats.

Hypoglycemia 

The first sign of hypoglycemia is sweating. People taking medications to lower blood sugar levels, like insulin and oral anti-diabetics, may experience sweating at night. In this condition, the neck often becomes noticeably sweaty and sticky. Researchers have found that hypoglycemic people sweat more than 85 percent of the time. 

Anxiety or Stress

A person who feels anxious, depressed, or stressed may find it difficult to fall asleep. Several physiological responses are triggered by anxiety that can contribute to nighttime sweating. Hence, stress is a major cause of night sweats.

Cancers 

A person with undiagnosed cancer can experience night sweats with additional symptoms, including weight loss and fever. Leukemia and lymphoma are cancers associated with night sweats and other symptoms such as fatigue or excessive bruising. 

Night Sweats in Children

Children are more likely than adults to sweat more at night because their little bodies have not yet learned how to balance body temperature expertly as adult bodies have.

Symptoms of Night Sweats in Children

It can mean different things, as your child can dry all day, but they might have the following symptoms while asleep.

Local sweating there is immeasurable sweating in just one area. This could be simply the scalp, whole face, or neck. You will notice that your child’s pillow is entirely drenched, whereas their bed is dry. Older children may have sweating solely within the armpits while sleeping.

General Sweating

In most cases, the whole body is drenched in sweat. There is a lot of sweat on your child’s sheets and pillow and on their clothing. 

Along with sweating, your child may have the following:

  • Warm hands and feet
  • Flushed or red body
  • Sweat-induced grumpiness or tears at night
  • Sleepiness during the day because their sleep was disturbed at night because of excessive sweating 
  • Shivers or clammy skin
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What to do if Night Sweats Become Severe in Children?

Tell your healthcare provider if your kid has symptoms of health problems that may be linked to night sweats. Chronic respiratory disease, infections, and allergies can also lead to night sweating. 

Symptoms to tell your healthcare provider about include:

  • Snoring
  • Noisy breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Ear pain
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Stiff neck
  • Floppy head
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Also, see your pediatrician if your kid’s sweat begins to smell otherwise or if your child has body odor. 

Medical conditions associated with night sweats

Night Sweats During Pregnancy

It is normal to sweat more during pregnancy as it is a sign of hormonal changes in your body. It commonly occurs during the first three to four weeks of pregnancy. It is due to the rapid fluctuation of estrogen produced naturally by the body. However, night sweats can also be tied to ovulation schedules. 

 A study shows that antiemetic medications such as Zofran and Metoclopramide can elicit night sweats. These medicines are given to women who suffer from extreme nausea early in pregnancy.

Hormonal Influx

In the first and second trimesters, your hormones are on overdrive, which means that night sweats in early pregnancy are common. We all know about the most common pregnancy hormones, such as progesterone, prolactin, and oxytocin. Still, some other hormones are important to note and likely contribute directly to increased sweat production. These are Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) and stimulating thyroid hormone. These hormones speed up the body’s metabolism, so the baby gets nutrients as fast as you do. These common and essential hormones make your body work double-duty so the baby gets the nutrients it needs when you eat, sleep, and metabolize your food.

Anti-nausea Medication 

If you formerly know that you are pregnant and you are presently taking anti-nausea drugs like Zofran and Motilium to help you deal with morning sickness, then these medicines may calm your stomach but can speed up sweat production.

How to Stop Night Sweats During Pregnancy?

  • Exercise during the day should be avoided
  • Wear loose and light clothes
  • Keep your body hydrated
  • Avoid the sun as much as you can
  • Always carry a handy fan
  • Heart diseases

If you experience excessive sweating and other symptoms of a heart attack, you may need medical attention. Some other symptoms of heart disease are:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Pain in your chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or indigestion

Sweating, notably at night, is an additional symbol of a heart-related condition referred to as subacute endocarditis. This condition causes inflammation of the membranes lining the chambers and valves of your heart. It tends to develop more slowly than the acute form of illness. In contrast, secondary hyperhidrosis occurs when excessive sweating results from an underlying condition such as coronary failure, angina (angina sufferers break out in cold sweats), or acute endocarditis. Although sweating may be a sign of an underlying medical condition, it is your body’s approach to cooling itself. It is normal to sweat more when you are anxious or stressed, particularly on the palm of your hands. 

Leukemia

Excessive night sweats can be an early symptom of leukemia and lymphoma. Leukemia is a blood cancer that causes an increased production of immature or abnormal blood cells. It occurs most often in adults over the age of 60. 

Hot flushes due to leukemia can occur for a number of reasons. It is also an early sign of leukemia when the bone marrow is overcrowded with leukemic cells, leading to a shortage of healthy blood cells. Also, the body can enflame itself in order to kill leukemic cells.

Leukemic night sweats include the following symptoms:

  • Paleness
  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lymphadenopathy
  • Other early signs of leukemia include
  • Reduced number of red blood cells
  • Reduced number of white blood cells
  • Reduced number of platelets
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Tiny red and purple spots on the skin
  • Easily bruising
  • Recurrent fevers and infections

Sleep Apnea 

Sleep apnea is when your respiratory system is affected while you are sleeping. You may completely stop breathing while sleeping. It can raise your corticosteroid levels and the stress hormone.

The sleep apnea study shows that people with untreated sleep apnea experience night sweats 40 percent more than those without sleep apnea. If you experience it regularly, then it could be a sign of untreated sleep apnea. The symptoms may include:

  • Snoring
  • Regular headache
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Sore throat
  • Dry mouth
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory loss 

You should consult a healthcare provider if you consistently deal with any of these signs. The doctors may recommend a CPAP machine to help get it under control. 

Aside from that, sleep apnea can cause cold sweats as a result of stress and anxiety. Also, cold sweats are different from night sweats. 

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Diagnosis of Night Sweats

In addition to asking for your complete medical history, your healthcare provider will also examine you physically. Human immunodeficiency virus, thyroid-stimulating hormone, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, chest radiographs, computed tomographic scans of the chest and abdomen, and bone marrow biopsy are some tests doctors will perform on patients. 

Treatment of Night Sweats

Treatment depends on what is causing your night sweats. For menopause-related night sweats, hormone therapy with estrogen alone or progestin can be an option. Hormone therapy can also help with other symptoms of menopause, such as bone loss and vaginal dryness. But not all hormone therapies are safe, as they carry some risks, including blood clots and gallbladder inflammation. Some non-estrogen medicines are used to treat night sweats, such as

Clonidine: 

It is an effective medicine for the treatment of hot flashes and primary idiopathic hyperhidrosis.

Megestrol: 

Low-dose megestrol is well tolerated and reduces the frequency of hot flashes in men and women.

Antidepressants: 

Antidepressants like Celexa, Prozac, and a prescription for Lexapro can be used to treat night sweats and hot flashes. 

Oxybutynin:

Oxybutynin is a medicine that is used to relieve menopausal hot flashes and sweats. It is also used to treat a hyperactive bladder. 

Anticonvulsants 

Anticonvulsants are moderately effective in reducing hot flashes and sweats, especially in those with nocturnal symptoms. 

Also, in the event that you experience night sweats that disrupt your sleep regularly, speak with your doctor right away. 

Other Medications for Night Sweats

Your healthcare provider may prescribe you medications for hot flashes, such as paroxetine and gabapentin. Venlafaxine is also used for the treatment of night sweats. Your doctor may recommend some antibiotics, antiviral drugs, or other drugs depending on your type of infection. Limiting or avoiding alcohol or caffeine consumption can also help reduce night sweats. Your healthcare provider may recommend therapy to help you quit these substances. should I

When to Consult a Doctor?

You don’t need to worry if you only get night sweats occasionally, and they don’t significantly affect your sleep quality. However, you should discuss them with your doctor next time.

It’s best to talk to your healthcare provider if you’re having trouble sleeping, regularly sweating, or experiencing other symptoms you find concerning.

You should be on the lookout for the following potentially severe symptoms:

  • Weight loss
  • Anxiety and pain in the body
  • Chills and fever
  • Chronic coughing or bloody sputum
  • Intense stomach pain or diarrhea

You can get online consultations with your doctors online. Our doctor can investigate the cause of your night sweats and, if necessary, prescribe treatment.

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Frequently Asked Question 

What are night sweats a sign of?

Infections, hormonal problems, or menopause can cause night sweats. Sleep hyperhidrosis (night sweats) is an episode of excessive perspiration during sleep. 

What causes those night sweats?

1. Menopause and the menstrual cycle. 
2. Hypoglycemia
3. Anxiety
4. Alcohol Consumption
5. Hyperhidrosis

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