Night Sweats

Night sweats, or excessive sweating during sleep, are a common symptom in women and men. Many medical conditions and diseases can cause them.

Examples include women in perimenopause or menopause; medications, hormone problems (Low-T), low blood sugar, and neurological problems. You may have other symptoms like chills, or shaking with a fever, vaginal dryness, or mood changes, depending upon the cause. Less common causes of night sweats include infections and cancers.

What are night sweats?

Doctors in primary care fields of medicine often hear their patients complain of night sweats because they are common. Night sweats refer to any excess sweating occurring during the night. However, if you keep your bedroom temperature unusually hot or you are sleeping in too many clothes, you may sweat during your sleep, which is normal.

In order to distinguish night sweats that arise from medical causes from those that occur because one's surroundings are too warm, doctors generally refer to true night sweats as severe hot flashes occurring at night that can drench sleepwear and sheets, which are not related to an overheated environment.

Depending upon the underlying cause of the night sweats, other symptoms may occur in association with the sweating.

These are some of the causes for night sweats:

  • Perimenopause and MenopauseThe hot flashes that accompany the menopausal transition can occur at night and cause sweating. This is a very common cause of night sweats in perimenopausal women.

  • HypoglycemiaSometimes low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) levels can cause sweating. People with diabetes who are taking insulin or oral anti-diabetic medications may experience hypoglycemia at night that is accompanied by sweating.

  • Hormone disordersSweating or flushing can be seen with several hormone disorders, including pheochromocytoma (a type of adrenal gland tumor that overproduces hormones known as catecholamines), carcinoid syndrome (overproduction of certain hormones by tumors of the lung or gastrointestinal system), and hyperthyroidism(excessive levels of thyroid hormones).

  • Idiopathic hyperhidrosisIdiopathic hyperhidrosis is a condition in which the body chronically produces too much sweat without any identifiable medical cause.

  • InfectionsClassically, tuberculosis is the infection most commonly associated with night sweats.

  • CancersNight sweats are an early symptom of some cancers. The most common type of cancer associated with night sweats is lymphoma.

  • AntidepressantsTaking certain medications can lead to night sweats. In cases without other physical symptoms or signs of tumor or infection, medications are often determined to be the cause of night sweats.

  • Neurologic conditionsUncommonly, neurologic conditions may cause increased sweating and possibly lead to night sweats.

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