Skip to main content

Night Sweats: Common Causes, Information and Facts

  • Synopsis: Published: 2009-07-25 (Rev. 2017-06-28) - Examines a number of causes of night sweats and excessive body sweating when sleeping. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Thomas C. Weiss at Disabled World.
Night Sweats

Night sweats (sleep hyperhidrosis) is the occurrence of excessive sweating during sleep. While night sweats might be relatively harmless, it can also be a sign of a serious underlying disease. It is important to distinguish night sweats due to medical causes from those that occur simply because the sleep environment is too warm. One of the most common causes of night sweats in women over 40 is the hormonal changes related to menopause and perimenopause.

Main Document

Quote: "Sweating that is excessive at night can drench a person's sheets and the clothes they are wearing when it is severe."

There are several different forms of night sweats. In order to determine the cause of night sweats in a particular person, doctors need to obtain details regarding their medical history, as well as perform tests to determine any underlying conditions that may exist that could be causing them. There are some known conditions that may cause night sweats...

Health care workers many times hear people complain about night sweats, which refers to any excessive sweating that occurs during the night.

If a person's bedroom is unusually hot, or they are wearing too many clothes to bed, they may begin to sweat while they sleep; something that is probably expected. A health care worker distinguishes night sweats that arise from ones that happen because a person's room is too hot, or because they are wearing too many clothes to bed, from ones that are referred to as true night sweats or severe hot flashes. True night sweats or hot flashes can drench the clothes a person wears to bed, or their sheets, and are not related to their environment.

A study of two-thousand two-hundred and sixty-seven people who visited their primary care physician found that forty-one percent of them experienced night sweats during the month previous to their doctor's visit. Their perception of excessive sweating during the night was common. Another thing that is important to note is that, 'flushing,' a form of redness and warmth of a person's trunk or face, might be difficult to tell apart from a true night sweat. You should contact a health care provider if you experience persistent night sweats that do not resolve, or if the night sweats that you experience are associated with fevers or other troubling symptoms.

There are several different forms of night sweats. In order to determine the cause of night sweats in a particular person, doctors need to obtain details regarding their medical history, as well as perform tests to determine any underlying conditions that may exist that could be causing them. There are some known conditions that may cause night sweats; these include:

Menopause:

Menopause can be accompanied by hot flashes which may happen at night, causing sweating. Hot flashes that occur at night are a common cause of night sweats in perimenopausal women.

Idopathic Hyperhidrosis:

Idiopathic Hyperhidrosis is a condition where a person's body chronically produces too much sweat. There is no known, identifiable medical cause for this condition.

Infections:

Infections such as Tuberculosis are commonly associated with night sweats. Bacterial infections like Osteomyelitis, Endocarditis, the HIV infection, and abscesses can all result in night sweats as well.

Cancer:

One of the early symptoms of cancer is night sweats. One of the most common types of cancer found in association with night sweats is Lymphoma. Persons who have undiagnosed cancer frequently present other symptoms, to include unexplained fevers and weight loss.

Medications:

There are certain medications which may lead to night sweats. In persons who do not have other, physical signs or symptoms of either an infection or tumor, medications are many times found to be the cause of night sweats. Antidepressants are one medication that may lead to night sweats, with all forms of antidepressants having night sweats as a side-effect and a range of incidence ranging between eight and twenty-two percent in persons taking these medications. Other forms of psychiatric medications may also cause night sweats. Even medications that are being taken to control nights sweats, such as acetaminophen and aspirin may cause sweating. Other kinds of medications can lead to flushing, something that can be confused with night sweats. Medications that may lead to flushing can include:

Niacin
Sildenafil
Tamoxifen,
Hydralazine,
Nitroglycerine

There are a number of other medications, to include cortisones such as either Prednisolone or Prednisone, that might also be associated with either flushing or night sweats.

Hypoglycemia:

Low blood sugar may, at times, cause sweating. Persons who use either oral anti-diabetes medication or insulin could experience hypoglycemia during the night, accompanied by sweating.

Hormone Disorders:

Hormone disorders, to include Carcinoid syndrome, Phenochromocytoma, and Hyperthyroidism, may cause either flushing or sweating.

Neurologic Conditions:

Neurologic conditions may uncommonly increase the amount of sweating a person experiences, potentially leading to night sweats. The conditions that may lead to this include Post-traumatic Syringomyelia, Stroke, Dysreflexia, and Autonomic Neuropathy.

Sweating that is excessive at night can drench a person's sheets and the clothes they are wearing when it is severe. A flushing sensation can be difficult to distinguish from a true night sweat, or it may occur in conjunction with a night sweat. The person may experience additional symptoms along with the sweating, depending on the underlying cause of the night sweats. A person may experience both fever and chills along with night sweats if they have either an infection or cancer, for example. For this reason, unresolved night sweats are something you should approach a health care professional about.

Determining the cause of night sweats in a specific person requires a doctor to get a detailed medical history from the person involved. A doctor will many times also order testing to determine if there is an underlying cause that is responsible for the night sweats the person is experiencing. Depending upon the cause of the night sweats, as well as the person's specific medical history, a doctor might order imaging studies to include X-rays or CT scans, blood work, or additional specialized testing.

Night sweats that are a symptom of an underlying issue might require medical treatment. Usually, medical treatment is not directed towards the night sweats specifically; instead, treatment is aimed at the underlying cause of them. Cancers, hormonal disorders, or infections; for example, that cause night sweats - would be treated. Night sweats that arise as a symptom of Perimenopause could be treated with hormone therapy; both estrogen and combined progestin and estrogien therapy have been successfully used for this purpose. Night sweats that occur as a result of medication side-effects may improve when the person either discontinues or changes the medication. A health care professional could be able to suggest an alternative to a medication that is causing night sweats.

Related Information:

  1. Venlafaxine vs. Estrogen Therapy for Night Sweats and Hot Flashes - Study compares oral estrogen and non-hormonal venlafaxine hydrochloride for reducing hot flashes and night sweats reported by menopausal women - Brigham and Women's Hospital
  2. Hyperhidrosis: Excessive Sweating Problems - Hyperhidrosis is the excessive sweating of the head face hands feet and armpits no matter the temperature or conditions - Ian Langtree
  3. Acting Out Dreams While Asleep - REM Sleep Behavior Disorder - REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) can be very dangerous to the people who have it as well as injure those who share a bed with them - Northwestern Memorial Hospital




Information from our Sleep Disorders: Information, Diagnosis and Treatment section - (Full List).


     What will I receive?

Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be. Also see information on blood group types and compatibility.


  1. Free Wheelchair Mission 1 Million for 1 Million Campaign
  2. Chef with Disabilities Continues Career Using Stand-Up Wheelchair
  3. 2018 COLA - 3rd Year With No Net Growth in Social Security Benefits
  4. Social Security Announces 2% COLA Benefit Increase for 2018




Citation