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Night sweats

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Are you losing your sleep over night sweats? Night sweats or sleep hyperhidrosis, is a common condition that occurs during sleep. Night sweats are unusual until your room is terribly hot or you’ve wrapped yourself with layers of clothes and sheets while sleeping. However, if the environment of your room and the climate are not the contributing factors and yet you are experiencing profuse sweating in the night, then it could be a symptom of an underlying medical problem.

What are the symptoms associated with night sweats?

A true night sweat will quite certainly occur when your clothes and bedding are drenched in sweat. The severity of the symptoms will depend on the underlying medical condition and some characteristic symptoms associated are:

  • Disturbed sleep or sleeplessness
  • Restlessness, anxiety, irritation
  • Shortness of breath
  • High temperature or fever
  • Shakiness and chills
  • Hot flashes and mood swings

What causes night sweats?

There are numerous reasons behind experiencing abnormal sweating in the night. They are:

  • Women usually experience night sweats during menopause  
  • Idiopathic hyperhidrosis- too much sweating without a known cause
  • Infections in the body- like tuberculosis, HIV infections, infection in bones (osteomyelitis)
  • Endocarditis- an infection of your heart muscle
  • Cancer- leukaemia and lymphomas
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Low Blood Sugar
  • Overactive thyroid gland- hyperthyroidism
  • Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GORD)
  • Tumor in endocrine gland
  • Anxiety issues
  • Problem in autonomic nerves and stroke
  • Side effects of anti-depressants, blood sugar pills and hormonal drugs

In some cases, the causes are not so serious and may include:

  • Eating spicy foods or drinking hot drinks before sleep
  • An over-heated room or very hot climate
  • Sleeping in an excessive amount of clothes or very warm blankets
  • Strenuous exercise before sleep

When to see a doctor?

If you have been experiencing bouts of sweat at night without any natural identifiable reasons, then you must see your doctor.

Diagnosis of night sweats

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Your doctor would carefully evaluate the other symptoms that you are experiencing apart from sweating out profusely at night. Let your doctor know if you are suffering from, a medical condition and are taking pills or any supplements. For women, night sweating during menopause is quite normal.

Depending on the initial medical examination, your doctor would further recommend blood tests for detecting a hormonal imbalance, lipid profile, presence of infections or any other abnormality. Imaging tests and other specialized diagnostic tests might also be recommended as per need.

Treatment of night sweats

Well, the treatment for night sweats will be directed towards curing the underlying medical condition, determined through the diagnostic tests. For example: Your sweats will reduce or completely go away with treatment of the associated medical problem which could be hormonal imbalance, tumour, or infections.

Estrogen therapy or combined estrogen and progesterone therapy might be advisedfor menopausal women who are facing severe trouble with night sweats and hot flashes.

If it’s your medicines causing the problem, then your doctor might consider altering the dose or stopping the course.  

Managing night sweats at home

However, if test reports are perfectly normal and your health is totally sound, then you should check your diet and lifestyle. Avoid eating spicy foods and consuming too many caffeinated drinks and try not to exercise too much if you have a sweat problem. Wear extremely light cotton fabric while sleeping at night and take showers before going to bed finally to get proper sleep. Most importantly, drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Don’t lose your sleep over night sweats. Find the cause and that will lead to a solution. Visit a doctor to eliminate any doubts regarding an underlying health condition. Keep stress and anxiety at bay and sleep a sound night’s sleep. You will surely overcome your night sweats.

Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 19, 2015