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What is hidden behind Night Sweats – and when you need to see a doctor

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Kamal Saini
Kamal S. has been Journalist and Writer for Business, Hardware and Gadgets at Revyuh.com since 2018. He deals with B2b, Funding, Blockchain, Law, IT security, privacy, surveillance, digital self-defense and network policy. As part of his studies of political science, sociology and law, he researched the impact of technology on human coexistence. Email: kamal (at) revyuh (dot) com

Night sweating may be due to a blanket that is too thick, warm pajamas, or high temperatures. However, if night sweats occur more often and it is not enough to swap the blanket for a thinner one, it could be due to a medical condition or treatment and not your environment.

Stress, high temperatures or spicy food: Often, profuse sweating at night conceals harmless causes – at least if the night sweats do not occur over a long period of time.

Such harmless causes include too much alcohol in the evening, a large meal, or simply too thick bedding.

But, according to health experts and doctors, there are many different causes of night sweats. To find the cause, a doctor must get a detailed medical history and order tests to decide what medical condition is responsible for the night sweats.

“There’s no easy way to distinguish different types of sweating, so getting to the root of the cause can help you take steps to preventing or managing if and how you experience them,” family medicine physician Dr. Donald Ford.

Here are eight known conditions that can cause excessive sweating at night:

  • Menopause: This is a very common cause of night sweats in women.
  • Idiopathic hyperhidrosis: Idiopathic hyperhidrosis is a condition in which the body chronically produces too much sweat without any identifiable medical cause.
  • Infections: Tuberculosis is the infection most commonly associated with night sweats. But bacterial infections, such as endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valves), osteomyelitis (inflammation in the bones), and abscesses can cause night sweats. Night sweats are also a symptom of HIV infection.
  • Cancers: Night sweats are an early symptom of some cancers. The most common type of cancer associated with night sweats is lymphoma. However, people who have undiagnosed cancer frequently have other symptoms as well, such as unexplained weight loss and fevers.
  • Medications: Taking certain medications can lead to night sweats. Antidepressant medications are a common type of drug that can lead to night sweats. From 8% to 22% of people taking antidepressant drugs have night sweats. 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. Many other drugs can cause night sweats or flushing.
  • Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar can cause sweating. People who are taking insulin or oral diabetes medications may have 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, posttraumatic syringomyelia, stroke, and autonomic neuropathy may cause increased sweating and may lead to night sweats.

Most causes of night sweats are not serious, Dr. Ford says.

But there are enough other causes that patients should get evaluated if their symptoms last more than a week and they’re not obviously related to a viral illness or disorder.

Medical treatments for night sweats vary depending on the cause. Treating the underlying cause is the way to relieve the symptoms.

Almost all causes of night sweats are treatable. So if you have persistent night sweats, go see your family doctor.

says Dr. Ford.

Image Credit: Getty

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