Encyclopedia

Night sweats

Night sweats are defined as any excessive sweating at night.

What are the symptoms?

Sweating that occurs at night can wet the sheets and bedding if it is very profuse. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between hot flashes and true or hot flashes night sweats.

Depending on the underlying cause of the night sweats, other symptoms may develop. For example, with some infections and cancers, high fever and chills occur at the same time with the perspirations.

What are the causes?

A person can sweat during sleep because of something harmless or because of a serious illness. If your bedroom is unusually hot or if you use too many covers, you may start to sweat while you sleep, and this is completely normal.

To distinguish between night sweats that occur for medical reasons and those that occur because the bedroom is too warm, doctors define true night sweats as severe hot flashes that occur at night and which can wet bed linen and sheets and are not associated with excessively high temperature in the bedroom or in the bed itself.

It is important to note that facial flushing can also be difficult to distinguish from true night sweats.

The possible reasons why you sweat are many and varied, some of the most common of which are:

Menopause – the hot flashes that accompany the transition of the female organism to menopause can appear at night and cause sweating.
Idiopathic hyperhidrosis – a condition in which the body chronically produces too much sweat without any clinical reason for it.
Infections – classically, tuberculosis is the infection that most commonly causes night sweats. But bacterial infections such as endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valves), osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bones) and abscesses can cause excessive night sweats. Also, frequent night sweats are a symptom of infection with the AIDS virus.
Cancers – the release of excessive amounts of sweat at night are a symptom of some types of malignant formations. Most often, lymphoma is the cause of night sweats. However, people who have undiagnosed cancer often develop other symptoms such as unexplained weight loss and fever.
Medications that can cause night sweats are:
Antidepressants – a frequently observed side effect is abnormal sweating during the dark part of the day.
– Medicines for the treatment of mental illnesses such as psychoptics;
– Medicines used to reduce high fever such as aspirin and paracetomol;
Hypoglycemia – low concentration of glucose in the blood;
Hormonal disorders;

Treatment of Night Sweats

Night sweats are in most cases symptoms of health problems that may require treatment. However, treatment usually does not target the night sweats themselves, but rather the underlying cause.

Example of clinical conditions where the treatment is aimed at the root cause are – hormonal disorders, infections and cancers.

Night sweats, manifested as a symptom of perimenopause, can be treated with hormone therapy, if the doctor decides so. Hormone replacement therapy with estrogen alone or combined with estrogen and progestin has been used successfully to treat perimenopausal symptoms when they cause discomfort for the woman.

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