While sweating at night can simply be due to a faulty thermostat or too many blankets, it can also indicate something more serious. Many people ignore this symptom, but a range of factors, from age to certain medications to health conditions, can lead to night sweats, and while people should not panic right away, it is best to understand the possible causes and seek medical attention if the symptom persists.
Menopause causes hormonal imbalances as women's bodies change in middle age. Night sweats are a common side effect of this natural event. Though there is no cure for night sweats brought on by menopause, lowering the bedroom temperature and practicing mindfulness or relaxation exercises can help alleviate the issue. Night sweats can have larger repercussions if they repeatedly interrupt sleep.
Many prescription drugs cause night sweats. The most common medications to prompt this side effect are tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. These medicines treat depression or hormonal imbalances and can cause excessive sweating. Cortisone, migraine medications, asthma inhalers, pain medications, blood sugar regulators, and hormonal therapy medicine may also cause night sweats.
In centuries past, tuberculosis claimed tens of millions of lives every year until advances in medicine helped reduce occurrences. The disease still claims the lives of around 2,000 people per year in the United States, however. The bacterial infection, which primarily affects the lungs, is more common in people who have a weakened immune system. The first symptom may be a fever accompanied by night sweats. An active case of tuberculosis resembles the flu and pneumonia and is highly contagious.
An abscess is a serious bacterial infection that happens as a result of conditions or events including a damaged appendix, swollen or infected tonsils, boils, or diverticulitis flare-ups. Abscesses can cause night sweats that often occur along with chills and fever. Though many people think of these growths as outwardly visible, internal abscesses can occur as well and can cause serious illness, so when unexplained night sweats do not pass, it is best to see a doctor for a diagnosis.
People with HIV and AIDS may experience chronic night sweats. Reduced immunity and greater susceptibility to illness afflict individuals with this disease, and night sweats could indicate a secondary infection or illness. In its first few weeks, HIV manifests as flu-like symptoms, and night sweats are common.
Over-the-counter migraine drugs may result in night sweats. This relatively common side effect should be temporary and can be alleviated by lightening blankets, cooling the room, or changing medications. When one changes medicine or manufacturers, the body might need to adapt to the chemical shift. If your night sweats continue after stopping a medication, consult with a doctor. Also, consult with a physician before switching or discontinuing migraine medications.
Some forms of cancer present with night sweats in the initial stages. Lymphoma is one that often causes nocturnal perspiration, as the immune system battles the invading cells. Cancer treatments are also known to cause night sweats. In addition, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, radiation, and certain pain meds can have this effect. A doctor should discuss any potential side effects with the patient when prescribing the treatment. Negative side effects, such as night sweats that interrupt sleep, could prompt a doctor to try a different type of treatment.
The onset of certain medical conditions can cause sweating. Strokes, autonomic neuropathy, and Parkinson's disease can all feature this symptom. These are all nerve-related conditions that can disrupt portions of the brain that regulate temperature. This sends signals to the sweat glands to alter the amount of sweat released to the surface of the skin, leading to increased sweating.
Chronic hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating. Even people without an underlying condition can sweat excessively, and sometimes there is no obvious reason for this event. Often, genetics play a role. The best way to cope with chronic hyperhidrosis is to dress lightly when sleeping. Thick sheets and excessive blankets can make the night sweating worse.
Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar, and the side effects of the condition often include poor sleep quality due to night sweats and nightmares. Diabetics may experience a drop in blood sugar at night. This activates the nervous system in a way that leads to excessive sweating. Some medications used to treat diabetes can also cause increased sweating and night sweats as a side effect.
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