Night sweat is any type of excess sweating that might wake you up in the night feeling clammy and full of perspiration. Know the 10 causes of night sweats and take charge of your health. Be aware of the possible conditions and take the necessary action. While abnormal sweating can get on your nerves, it is harmless. However, night sweats could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Therefore, it is advisable to visit your physician if it continues to occur.

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Top 10 Causes of Night Sweats or Nocturnal Hyperhidrosis

Top 10 Causes of Night Sweats or Nocturnal Hyperhidrosis

The medical term for night sweats is nocturnal hyperhidrosis, which translates to "night-time excessive sweating".

Here are the top 10 causes of night sweats or nocturnal hyperhidrosis:

  1. Hormonal Imbalance

    Night sweats can be linked to menopause and many women commonly experience it. These night sweats are the counterpart of hot flashes. As hormone levels change during menopausal transition, menopause is one of the top 10 causes of night sweats. Night sweats or nocturnal hyperhidrosis can make you wake up feeling cold, while your sheets will be drenched. You might also feel your heart pounding when you wake up.

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    Apart from menopause, other hormonal imbalances too are some of the causes of night sweats. Some hormonal disorders like thyroid problems and pheochromocytoma, an adrenal gland disorder too can cause night sweats. Most of these conditions are treatable with appropriate medical advice.

  2. Medication and its Side Effects

    Side effects of prescription medications is another commonest cause of night sweats or nocturnal hyperhidrosis. These may include medication that treats depression, like tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Additionally, fever medicines, some pain-killers, hormone therapy, steroids and blood sugar control medications are also some of the causes of night sweats. It is necessary to seek medical advice to find alternatives to such medications, know the right doses and learn ways to manage night sweats.

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  3. Tuberculosis

    Tuberculosis is a serious infection, usually affecting the lungs but can also attack other organs. It presents with fever, cough that persists for long, breathing difficulties, weight loss, fatigue and night sweats. Tuberculosis has always been one of the most important causes of night sweats or nocturnal hyperhidrosis, which needs attention, particularly if accompanied by other symptoms. However, tuberculosis can be effectively treated if diagnosed in time and followed-up properly.

  4. Abscess

    Bacterial infections like abscesses, including boils are some of the commonest causes of night sweats or nocturnal hyperhidrosis. As the body does its best to combat the infection, fever and night sweats are common symptoms. There are different types of abscesses, including skin and internal abscesses. Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics, while in some cases, the abscesses may have to be drained. Internal abscesses may take a longer time to diagnose.

  5. Hypoglycemia

    Hypoglycemia or low blood glucose levels too is one of the top causes of night sweats or nocturnal hyperhidrosis. A drop in blood sugar levels overnight might result in a person sweating profusely, leading to nightmares and headaches. Medicines taken to control diabetes or insulin medications too can cause night sweats. Hypoglycemia can alter the way your nerves function. The damaged nerves refuse to send the right signals to your sweat glands, leading to night sweats. Changes in diet or activity levels can have great impact and cause night sweats or nocturnal hyperhidrosis in some people.

    Hence, it is important to maintain normal blood sugar levels with proper diet, exercise or medicines and adjust the dose of sugar lowering medicines appropriately.

  6. HIV and AIDS

    The 10 causes of night sweats or nocturnal hyperhidrosis also include serious infections like HIV and AIDS. Sweating can be so severe that the entire bedding might get soaked in sweat upon waking up. The night sweats are usually accompanied by fever. In the first few days of being diagnosed with HIV, people might experience chills and rashes. It is important to take medical opinion at the earliest.

  7. Stress and Anxiety

    Stress and anxiety are an increasing problem these days and many people are unknowingly suffering from it. Emotional problems, stressful experiences and anxiety often disturb the peace of mind and also affect sleep in many cases. These can be some of the cause of night sweats or nocturnal hyperhidrosis and may be accompanied with severe sleep disturbances and nightmares.

  8. Neurological Problems

    Since sweating has a link to your nerves and how they function, the damaged nerves can send the wrong signals to your sweat glands, leading to night sweating. Neurological conditions like autonomic neuropathy, stroke or even Parkinson's disease can cause night sweats or nocturnal hyperhidrosis. Nerve injuries, infections, degenerative disorders or other illnesses affecting the nerves can be some of the causes of night sweats or nocturnal hyperhidrosis.

  9. Cancer

    Some types of cancer are usually a common cause of night sweats. They are generally accompanied by fever and weight loss. Sweating could also take place during the day.

  10. Side Effects of Cancer Treatment

    The other causes of night sweats or nocturnal hyperhidrosis could also include cancer treatments, including hormone therapy, radiation, chemotherapy and drugs. Always inform your doctor about the side affects you might be experiencing.

    While these are the top 10 causes of night sweats or nocturnal hyperhidrosis, some other conditions too cause sweating at night. Some people may experience chronic night sweats, which may be linked to their genes. While it does not pose a major health hazard, but it can be embarrassing and uncomfortable.

    It is important to seek medical opinion and find the cause of the problem of sweating at night. Doctors may order appropriate investigations based on personal history, health condition and associated symptoms. If the underlying causes of night sweats are treated, the problem can be resolved. In cases, where there are no obvious causes, prescription antiperspirants and lifestyle changes can help manage night sweats or nocturnal hyperhidrosis. Being aware will ensure you get treated properly, and correctly.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: March 7, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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