What Causes Night Sweats?

what causes night sweats

I woke up three nights in a row with wet clothes and wet sheets. I was freezing and my skin was clammy – coated in wetness. What’s going on? Maybe I was having a bad dream or maybe I had a fever or an infection (Symptoms of Infection)? I was ok with a night or two. Maybe my body was coming down with an infection, but three nights in a row, then on again, and off again for a few weeks? I needed to get to the bottom of this and figure out what causes night sweats? Was it something normal with getting older, or something worse, entirely?

What Causes Night Sweats? Practical Observations.

In most cases nighttime sweating or cold sweats are temporary – lasting only a night or two. A person can experience excessive sweating after eating spicy foods close to bedtime, or a sleeping room that is too hot or too many layers of blankets or a pillow that doesn’t discharge heat very well. If you are simply overheated, consider a good pillow for hot flashes or night sweats. While these situations might produce excessive sweating, they are unlikely to be classified as night sweats.

Can Your Body Produce Too Much Sweat?

In some cases, a person’s body simply produces an excessive amount of sweat and the underlying reasons are difficult to determine. This condition is commonly known as Idiopathic Hyperhidrosis. The term hidrosis means to-sweat, and hyper, too-much of it. The condition can be generalized, thus occurring all over the body, or localized to certain regions of the body; for example, under the arms or hands.

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causes-of-night-sweats

There are secondary medical conditions that could cause too much sweating, including obesity or diabetes or hyperthyroidism, a medical condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroid, which is responsible for helping to regulate your metabolism. This condition affects women 10 times more frequently than men, affecting 2% to 5% of women between 20 and 40. Approximately 60% of the 20 million Americans with thyroid are unaware of their condition (American Thyroid Association).

Are Night Sweats Normal? They May Indicate a Secondary Medical Condition.

Typically, nighttime sweating episodes that soak your clothes are considered night sweats. Night sweats are not necessarily your body’s inability to regulate temperature under layers or blankets or the result of you forgetting to turn down the thermostat before bed. What causes of night sweats might be serious hormonal changes or other diseases or allergies that you need to bring to the attention of your physician as soon as possible.

The Most Common Cause of Night Sweats in Women Are Hormone Imbalances

They key signs of menopause indicate a serious, but normal, change in a woman’s menstrual cycle and a change in the naturally occurring hormones, such as estrogen, in her body. As a result, the imbalances may trigger nighttime sweating. In menopause, a woman’s body produces decreasing levels of estrogen which can cause changes in the hypothalamus, an almond-sized part of the brain that helps regulate: body temperature, hunger, sleep, fight or flight stress responses, and sexual development.

hypothalamus diagram

Infections are Common Causes of Night Sweats

Many infectious conditions can cause night sweats. Bacterial infections such as tuberculosis are more common infectious conditions that can cause night sweats. Tuberculosis is highly infectious, but treatable with early intervention. The symptoms of tuberculosis can range from fatigue and shortness of breath, to chest paints or simply an overall sensation of not feeling well. A skin test is a common method of diagnosis for TB.

What Causes Night Sweats? Could it Be Stress?

A traumatic event might lead to a condition called acute stress disorder (ASD), lasting for a short time, approximately a month or less which may produce night sweats.. ASD is an anxiety disorder not unlike post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and feelings of helplessness or heightened fear. Medication and cognitive behavioral therapy can help a person deal with the condition.

What Types of Cancers are Related to Night Sweats?

First, don’t be alarmed and assume that you have cancer if you have night sweats. Nighttime sweating might be an indicator of a more serious condition, but let your doctor help diagnose your own condition. If you’re having night sweats that are continuing, go to your doctor for a more comprehensive diagnosis.

However, night sweats can be early symptoms of different types of cancers. Most frequently nighttime sweating is associated with lymphoma; however night sweats are often not the only symptom. There are often other indicators of a more serious condition.

Investigate, but Don’t Panic

Night sweats are unpleasant experiences that are usually very temporary. If you are experiencing night sweats, get informed about the possible causes and take note of your current health and environment. Seek professional guidance if the condition persists.

What Causes Night Sweats? Please Share Your Experiences

If you’ve experienced night sweats in the past, please share your experience and observations with our readers. How long did they persist? Could you identify a medical condition related to nighttime sweating? Did you see a doctor? If so, how did your doctor diagnose your condition and what did he or she do about it.

 

 

Morris Bradley
Morris is a contributing author with Seekyt. I'm an ENFP on the Myers-Briggs personality test. I am an environmental consultant who works with developing countries and developing communities to help them become more environmentally sustainable and economically self-sustaining.