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Symptoms and Signs of Night Sweats (in Men and Women)

Doctor's Notes on Night Sweats in Men and Women Causes, Symptoms, Natural and Hormonal Treatments

Night sweats refers to excessive sweating during sleep. Nights sweats are a common symptom of several different medical conditions and can happen in both women and men. Examples of conditions that can cause night sweats include the menopausal transition in women, other hormonal problems such as hyperthyroidism, neurological problems, taking certain medications, and low blood glucose levels. Less common causes include certain infections and cancers such as lymphoma.

True night sweats may be so severe as to drench bed sheets and sleepwear. Other signs and symptoms associated with night sweats depend on the exact cause of the problem. These can include fever, chills, mood changes, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, headache, sleep disturbances, flushing, weight loss, shaking or trembling, anxiety, fatigue, problems with concentration, or weakness.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Night Sweats in Men and Women Causes, Symptoms, Natural and Hormonal Treatments Symptoms

Excess sweating that occurs at night may drench sheets and bedclothes when severe. As mentioned previously, sometimes the sensation of flushing (a warmth and redness of the face or trunk) may be hard to distinguish from true night sweats or may accompany night sweats. Depending upon the underlying cause of the night sweats, other symptoms may occur in association with the sweating. For example, with certain infections and cancers, fever and chills are associated with the night sweats.

Night Sweats in Men and Women Causes, Symptoms, Natural and Hormonal Treatments Causes

Taking certain medications can lead to night sweats.

  • Antidepressant medications are a common type of medication that can lead to night sweats. All types of antidepressants can cause night sweats as a side effect.
  • Other psychiatric drugs have also been associated with night sweats.
  • Medicines taken to lower fever such as aspirin and acetaminophen can sometimes lead to sweating.
  • Other types of drugs can cause flushing, which, as mentioned above, may be confused with night sweats. Some of the many drugs that can cause flushing include
  • niacin (taken in the higher doses used for lipid disorders),
  • tamoxifen (Nolvadex),
  • hydralazine (Apresoline), nitroglycerine, and sildenafil (Viagra). Many other drugs not mentioned above, including cortisone medications, such as prednisone and prednisolone, may also be associated with flushing or night sweats.

To determine what is causing night sweats in a particular individual, a doctor must obtain a detailed medical history and often order tests to decide if an underlying medical condition is responsible for the night sweats. Depending upon the cause of the night sweats and an individual's medical history, tests may include blood tests, imaging studies (such as X-rays or CT scans), and further specialized tests.

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.

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.

Bed Basics How to Get Your Best Sleep Ever Slideshow

Bed Basics How to Get Your Best Sleep Ever Slideshow

You may know how important a consistent bedtime and exercise routine are for a good night's sleep. Maybe you have your alcohol and caffeine use down to a science, too. But what happens when you actually get to bed? What else can help you sleep better? Try these tips and tricks.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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