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What are night sweats?

Excessive perspiration, or sweating, at night is often referred to as night sweats. Night sweats may be associated with depression and difficulty sleeping. Night sweats are a common symptom of menopause and can also be caused by some medications and medical conditions

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What causes night sweats?

It’s normal to sweat at night if the temperature is too warm. However, some people experience drenching night sweats regularly irrespective of the temperature. Medical conditions that cause night sweats include the following.

  • Menopause
  • Infections, TB, HIV
  • Cancer, lymphoma, leukemia, and other cancers
  • Thyroid disease
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Low blood sugar
  • Side effects of medication
    • Antidepressants
    • Hormone therapy
    • Narcotics
  • Cancer Treatment
  • Too much caffeine, alcohol, or drugs.

Evaluation of Night Sweats

It’s not always possible to determine the cause of night sweats. But other symptoms you experience along with nighttime sweating can help narrow down an underlying medical cause.

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.

How are night sweats treated?

Effective treatment of night sweats is based on identifying their underlying cause. In addition, your doctor may recommend some of the following may be helpful.

  • Adjust sleeping habits
  • Removing blankets from your bed
  • Wearing lighter pajamas
  • Opening a window in your bedroom
  • Adding air conditioning or a fan to your bedroom.

Can night sweats be prevented?

There are some lifestyle changes that may help prevent some causes of night sweats. To lower your risk of experiencing night sweats:

  • Limit consumption of alcohol and caffeine
  • Avoid using tobacco and drugs
  • Sleep in a cooler environment
  • Try to maintain a moderate weight
  • Avoid eating spicy food if you have menopause, as it can worsen symptoms
  • Drink cold water. Use an insulated cup or flask for cold water when you go to bed. Drinking cool water throughout the night can help cool you off if you wake up sweating and help you stay hydrated if you do end up sweating more than usual.
  • Adjust exercise timing. Physical activity just before sleeping could contribute to increased sweating in the night.

Medications

Some common drugs known to sometimes cause night sweats.

  • Steroids (prednisone and cortisone)
  • Antidepressants-both tricyclic and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI)
  • Pain relief medications, such as aspirin and acetaminophen
  • Hormone therapy
  • Some glucose lowering medications
  • Phenothiazine antipsychotics

Medical causes of Night Sweats

Cancer

Unexplained night sweats can be a symptom of cancer. Lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia, liver and other cancers can be cause night sweats, Individuals usually have other signs and symptoms but not always. This is why persistent night sweats should be brought to the attention of your doctor.

Serious Infections

Some serious infections can also cause night sweats, including:

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  • COVID-19 and other viral infections
  • Tuberculosis-a highly contagious infection that usually affects your lungs
  • Endocarditis - an infection in the valves of your heart
  • HIV
  • Tick Borne diseases like Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted fever
  • Osteomyelitis-infection of the bones
  • Brucellosis - an infection you can get from animals with brucellosis or unpasteurized products from infected animals

Infections also tend to cause other noticeable symptoms such as chills and fever, aching muscles and joints, general weakness or fatigue, and lack of appetite.

General PMF Newsletter 490

Neurological disorders

In rare cases, night sweats can occur as a symptom of certain neurological conditions including autonomic dysreflexia, autonomic neuropathy, and strokes.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, regularly wake up soaked in sweat, or have other symptoms that concern you, it’s best to check in with your healthcare provider.

References

1. aafp.org/afp/2003/0301/p1019.html

2. 1136/bmjopen-2013-002795

3. my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15631-autonomic-neuropathy-or-autonomic-dysfunction-syncope-information-and-instructions

4. nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hyperthyroidism

5. org/diseases-and-conditions/mens-health/low-testosterone

6. mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

7. sweathelp.org/where-do-you-sweat/other-sweating/night-sweats.html

8. my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/16562-night-sweats-and-womens-health

9. clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8718-sleep-apnea