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Night Sweats: What Is Causing You to Sweat At Night?

Facts and Definition of Night Sweats

  • Night sweats are excessive sweating that occurs at night.
  • Night sweats are often, but not always, associated with hot flashes that women may experience during the menopausal transition.
  • Many other medical conditions and even certain medications can cause night sweats.
  • True night sweats are not related to an overheated room or sleeping environment.
  • Other symptoms can be associated with night sweats, depending on the cause. Associated symptoms can include
    • flushing,
    • fever, or
    • chills.
  • It is important to consult a health-care professional for unexplained night sweats that do not resolve.
  • Treatment of night sweats depends on the underlying cause of the problem.

What Are Night Sweats?

Night sweats refer to any excess sweating occurring during the night. If your bedroom is unusually hot or you are using too many bedclothes, you may begin to sweat during sleep - and this 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, and that are not related to an overheated environment. It is important to note that flushing (a warmth and redness of the face or trunk) also may be hard to distinguish from true night sweats.

What Causes Night Sweats in Men and Women?

Night sweating can arise from harmless situations or serious disease. If your bedroom is unusually hot or you are using too many bedclothes, you may begin to sweat during sleep - and this 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, and that are not related to an overheated environment. It is important to note that flushing (a warmth and redness of the face or trunk) may also be hard to distinguish from true night sweats.

There are many different causes of night sweats. Some of the known conditions that can cause night sweats include:

Cancer: Night sweats are an early symptom of some cancers. The most common type of cancer associated with night sweats is lymphoma. Leukemia also may cause night sweats. However, people who have an undiagnosed cancer frequently have other symptoms as well, such as unexplained weight loss and fevers.

Hypoglycemia: Sometimes low blood sugar can cause sweating. People who are taking insulin or oral anti-diabetic medications may experience hypoglycemia at night that is accompanied by sweating.

Hormone disorders: Sweating or flushing can be seen with several hormone disorders, including pheochromocytoma, carcinoid syndrome, and hyperthyroidism.

Neurologic conditions: Uncommonly, neurologic conditions including autonomic dysreflexia, post-traumatic syringomyelia, stroke, and autonomic neuropathy may cause increased sweating and possibly lead to night sweats.

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

Infections: Classically, tuberculosis is the infection most notoriously associated with night sweats. However, bacterial infections, such as those that cause endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valves), osteomyelitis (inflammation within the bones), and abscesses all may result in night sweats. Night sweats are also a symptom of HIV/AIDS.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Night Sweats: Causes and Treatments in Men and Women:

Night Sweats In Women - Treatment

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Night Sweats - Describe Your Experience

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Night Sweats - Menopause

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Night Sweats - Cancers

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10 Ways to Deal with Menopause Symptoms

Menopause can be problematic for many women if they have more than one symptom at a time. Check out these 10 ways to deal with the symptoms of menopause.

  1. Keep a "hot flash" diary. Log and track your hot flashes and any environmental or emotional factors are contribute to it, for example, foods and drinks you may have eaten. Was it a particularly stressful day?
  2. Do Yoga, tai chi, or meditate.
  3. Give your body help. If sex is painful talk to your doctor.
  4. Make more time for sex.
  5. Mood highs and oh-so very low mood lows

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Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) is an unusual lymphoma that can manifest with constitutional symptoms (eg, fever, weight loss, night sweats) termed B-type symptoms.

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