what is the most common cause of night sweats (3)

What Is The Most Common Cause Of Night Sweats?

Ever wake up in the middle of the night dripping in sweat, like you just ran a marathon? Then you’re one of many people who have experienced night sweats or sleep hyperhidrosis. Night sweats aren’t related to your environment, like if your room is too hot. Rather, they’re usually caused by hormonal fluctuations in the body or are a side effect of medication. Either way, they can have a big impact on your sleep. Night sweats often wake you up, and you may have to change your clothes or sheets to fall back asleep comfortably.

Night sweats are another term for excessive perspiration or sweating at night. They’re an uncomfortable part of life for many people and may be associated with depression and difficulty sleeping. While night sweats are a common symptom of menopause, they can also be caused by some medical conditions and certain medications. In most cases, night sweats aren’t a serious symptom. Still, it’s important to know when to get checked if you have night sweats.

Sweating Too Much

  • Sweating is the body’s natural way of cooling down- sweat evaporates from the skin and allows body temperature to drop.
  • Short-term increases in sweating may happen in hot surroundings, during exercise, or if an acute fever or infection.
  • However, sometimes people get abnormal sweating or sweating at night that continues for weeks, months or even years- they may experience night sweats that drench the bed or excessive sweating by day that soaks through clothing and causes discomfort and embarrassment.
  • Sometimes chronic (long term) sweats can be a sign of a serious underlying illness- so here are some of the causes a doctor will consider.

Your sleepwear and sleep environment, bedding, sleepwear or even a mattress that doesn’t “breathe” A sleep environment that’s too warm.

Having night sweats a few times is usually nothing to worry about. But talk to your doctor if you often have night sweats or have other symptoms along with them. These might include fever, chills, pain, or unexpected weight loss.

Night sweats aren’t usually a cause for concern. In some cases, though, they may be a sign of an underlying medical condition that requires treatment. For example, night sweats are common in menopause, which usually starts around age 50. However, if you experience night sweats and other menopause symptoms before turning 40, it’s important to talk with your doctor. This may indicate a condition called primary ovarian insufficiency.

It’s also important to seek medical attention if you develop night sweats that frequently happen, disturb your sleep, or are accompanied by other symptoms. For example, night sweats that occur with a high fever, cough, or unexplained weight loss may signify a serious medical condition. In addition, in those with lymphoma or HIV, night sweats may indicate that the condition progresses.

To lower your risk of experiencing night sweats:

  • limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine.
  • Avoid using tobacco and drugs.
  • Sleep in a cooler environment.
  • Consider getting a cooling mattress.
  • Try to maintain a moderate weight.
  • Avoid eating spicy food if you have menopause, as it can worsen symptoms.

Leukemia and lymphoma are among the cancers associated with night sweats. Those associated with leukemia usually occur in conjunction with symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, or excessive bruising. Leukemia-related sweats may also result from daytime fevers.

Most people go through stages of dehydration throughout the day if they aren’t drinking water regularly. If you’re partially dehydrated when you go to bed, you’ll likely sweat less. But if you’re well-hydrated, the chances are that you’ll sweat more. Night sweats vary in intensity for this reason.

Foods that cause an overproduction of acid include citrus, tomato-based foods, chocolate, caffeine, and spicy or high-fat foods. Sometimes simple changes to your routine can help reduce the symptoms and alleviate them. If someone is experiencing night sweats, should they be worried?

Studies have indicated that magnesium supplements can reduce the intensity and severity of hot flashes and night sweats and general support health and well-being.

It’s normal to sweat during the night if the room or your bedding makes you too hot. Night sweats are when you sweat so much that your night clothes and bedding are soaking wet, even though where you’re sleeping is cool. Adults and children can get night sweats.

Night sweats can be related to infection. For example, suppose you’ve recently been ill with a minor respiratory infection. In that case, a slight fever can cause you to sweat more at night, as your body’s normal day/night temperature reset may be exaggerated.

When blood sugar levels drop, this can cause several sleep-disturbing symptoms, including headaches and excessive sweating. While night sweats can occur across the whole body, in people experiencing nocturnal hypoglycemia, the neck often becomes noticeably sweaty, making this a key sign to look out for.

If you are looking for a list of symptoms and signs of high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension), you won’t find them here. This is because most of the time, there are none. Myth: People with high blood pressure will experience nervousness, sweating, difficulty sleeping or facial flushing.

How long do hot flashes last? It used to be said that menopause-related hot flashes fade away after six to 24 months. But for many women, hot flashes and night sweat often last a lot longer—by some estimates, seven to 11 years.

Menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycles. It’s diagnosed after you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual period. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51 in the United States.

FAQs About Common Cause Of Night Sweats

Here’s what you need to know about the common causes of night sweats and when to see a doctor:

Menopause

Night sweats are often linked to the hormonal fluctuations during menopause and perimenopause. More than 80% of women in perimenopause and menopause experience hot flashes – or sudden, intense feelings of warmth. When these happen at night, they can cause night sweats. Menopause occurs 12 months after a woman has her last menstrual period, usually between 45 and 55. Perimenopause occurs in the 7 to 14 years before menopause. Specifically, the drop in the hormone estrogen, which occurs during perimenopause, is linked to night sweats because it affects the body’s temperature regulation.

“Women experience more night sweats related to hormonal changes during perimenopause and menopause,” says Soma Mandal, MD, board-certified internist at Summit Medical Group in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. Night sweats during menopause aren’t caused for concern, but they can be uncomfortable. If you’re experiencing night sweats during menopause, talk to your doctors about treating the symptoms with medications that help replace estrogen.

Hormonal Disorders

what is the most common cause of night sweats (2)

Hormonal disorders can make it difficult for your body to regulate its normal temperature, which can cause night sweats. Body temperature is regulated by the hypothalamus, an area in the brain that produces hormones. When your hormones are out of balance, it sometimes means that the hypothalamus cannot regulate the temperature correctly. Hormonal disorders that can affect body temperature and cause night sweats to include:

  • Hyperthyroidism. 
    • This condition leads to overproduction of the thyroid hormone, which causes increased sweating, including night sweats.
  • Pheochromocytoma. 
    • This is a tumour on the adrenal gland, producing too many hormones. Symptoms can include night sweats and elevated heart rate.
  • Carcinoid syndrome. 
    • This is a rare disease linked to tumours in the endocrine system. In some cases, it can lead to excess production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. One of the symptoms is excess sweating.

If you experience other symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, such as weight changes or headaches, talk with your doctor about these symptoms.

Infection

If you’re sick with a viral or bacterial infection, your body raises its internal temperature to fight off the infection, which causes fever. This increase in body temperature can lead to sweating – and night sweats are a common symptom associated with fevers. “Various infections such as HIV, tuberculosis, and infectious mononucleosis can cause night sweats,” Mandal says. “These conditions can produce chemicals called cytokines which combat infection. Cytokines can induce fever and night sweats.” If you experience fever in addition to night sweats, you may want to check in with your doctor about what type of infection you have.

Medications

Certain medications can cause night sweats, including antidepressants for depression or anxiety. For example, a 2018 study found that up to 14% of people on Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) – the most common form of antidepressants – experience excessive sweating and night sweats. The study authors concluded that these medications likely affect the areas of the brain that produce hormones, which help control temperature and sweating.

Other medications that may cause night sweats to include:

  • Triptan migraine medications, like Relpax or Frova
  • Hormone-blocking medications, like Arimidex or Femara
  • Diabetes medications, like Metformin or insulin (if you’re taking these, check your blood sugar to ensure that it isn’t too low and causing the night sweats)
  • If your medications are causing night sweats, you can try sleeping in lighter clothes or keeping the room cooler. If night sweats continue to interrupt your sleep, you should talk to your doctor about your concerns.

Stress & Anxiety

Increased adrenaline production can lead to hyperventilation, a rapid heartbeat and sweating. Other anxiety symptoms include chest tightness, palpitations, tremors, nausea, diarrhoea and feelings of dread and fear.

Blood Disorders And Cancers

Lymphoma, leukaemia and other blood disorders can present with excessive sweating (particularly sweating at night), fatigue, recurrent infections, weight loss, fevers, back pain and sometimes a tendency to bleed or bruise easily. And a variety of cancerous conditions may also present with sweats.

Heart Problems

Various heart conditions can cause sweating. One of the signs of a heart attack is sweating. There are usually other symptoms such as chest pain (or tightness) which may spread to the jaw and left arm, nausea and sometimes shortness of breath and weakness.

Obesity

People who are significantly overweight may experience excessive sweating. What are the warning signs it could be something serious? Anyone who is sweating too much should speak to a doctor as soon as possible- particularly if the sweats are severe, or there are other worrying symptoms such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Fevers
  • Exhaustion
  • Chest or back pain
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath

Night Sweats

What tests should be done for excessive sweating or sweating at night? As there are so many causes of sweating, your doctor will usually conduct a thorough physical examination, including pulse, temperature and blood pressure, as well as assessing the heart, chest and abdomen. Depending on the history and examination findings, blood tests will often be ordered to check for some or all of the conditions listed above. There may also be a need for X-rays, scans and other investigations.

Remedies

Identification of the cause of night sweats will allow you to treat them. Hormone imbalances can commonly be attended to with hormone replacement courses, whilst the effects can also be reduced by cutting down on alcohol consumption. When the cause is isolated to medication, this can also be helped by consulting with your doctor, who may suggest alternatives. Seeking a medical opinion regarding your night sweats may also help you diagnose a more serious underlying issue and lead you to seek appropriate treatment. 

While night sweats are often not a cause for concern, they are commonly a source of discomfort for those who suffer them. While some causes, such as hormone imbalances, can be inevitable, other causes may be alleviated through behavioural changes.

Treatment For Excessive Sweating

Treatment for excessive sweating depends on the cause. It may include:

  • weight reduction – if the person is overweight
  • topical applications (applying prescribed substances to the skin) such as:
    • antiperspirants with 10–25% aluminium salts 
    • ‘anticholinergic’ medications may be available as a cream, spray, powder, stick, roll-on, wipe, and paint. 
  • medical management, for example:
    • oral ‘anticholinergic’ medications can be prescribed to block the activation of sweat glands
    • hormone replacement therapy can be prescribed to reduce the hot flushes of menopause
  • iontophoresis – the activity of sweat glands is temporarily reduced by passing a low-level electric current through the skin
  • Botox injections – to paralyse sweat glands. The effect of a single injection lasts six to nine months.
  • non-invasive microwave treatment (the MiraDry® system approved by FDA in 2011) – for excessive sweating of armpits
  • Surgery to the nerves that control sweat glands – may be considered in severe cases where all other treatments have been unsuccessful.

Self-Help Strategies For Excessive Sweating

  • Some strategies for managing hyperhidrosis at home include:
  • Wear loose clothing.
  • Follow the instructions carefully, use antiperspirants containing aluminium chloride, and are designed for hyperhidrosis. While advertised mainly for use in the armpits, these agents can also be used on the palms, soles and forehead or wherever hyperhidrosis occurs.

Reduced sweating is called hypohidrosis if there is a partial loss of sweating or anhidrosis if there is a complete lack of sweating. This can occur for several reasons, which include:

  • some skin disorders
  • burns to skin that damage the sweat glands
  • underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) 
  • dehydration
  • Prolonged excessive heat or exercise during hot weather.

Lack of sweating may create problems with temperature control and lead to steep rises in body temperature during hot weather. Occasionally, this can be life-threatening.

Heatstroke And Heat Exhaustion

Heatstroke (or sunstroke) can occur in hot weather when not enough sweat is produced to keep the body cool. Symptoms can include:

  • muscle cramps
  • headache
  • nausea 
  • vomiting. 

Excessive body salts and water loss can lead to a life-threatening complication known as heat exhaustion. Heatstroke can be managed and heat exhaustion prevented by seeking a cool, shaded place, drinking plenty of fluids and sponging the body with water, if necessary.

Can Night Sweats Be Prevented?

what is the most common cause of night sweats (1)

Lifestyle changes may help prevent some causes of night sweats. To lower your risk of experiencing night sweats:

  • limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine
  • avoid using tobacco and drugs
  • sleep in a cooler environment
  • consider getting a cooling mattress
  • try to maintain a moderate weight
  • avoid eating spicy food if you have menopause, as it can worsen symptoms

Get prompt medical attention if you suspect your night sweats are related to an infection or other illness. Ask your doctor for more information about your specific condition, treatment options, and strategies to prevent night sweats.

Conclusion

Night sweats can be uncomfortable and disrupt your sleep. In most cases, they’re not a cause for serious concern. But sometimes, they may be caused by an underlying condition that requires treatment. Your doctor can help diagnose the cause of your night sweats. They can also recommend strategies to prevent or treat night sweats. Depending on the underlying cause, they might recommend lifestyle changes, medications, or other treatments.

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