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What Are Night Sweats?

Night sweats can be defined as excessive, abnormal sweating during the night — typically to the point that the clothes you are wearing, and perhaps even your bedding, are soaked in sweat. Heavily sweating at night during extremely hot weather or in a room that's too well heated does not fall under night sweats. 

Night sweats are certainly uncomfortable and annoying. They do not usually indicate the presence of a serious medical problem, but because conditions that do require treatment are sometimes the culprit, it is wise to investigate what is going on.


Here, we will take a brief look at the more common causes of night sweats. 


Night Sweats And The Menopause

The menopause is among the most frequent causes of night sweats in women. So-called hot flashes often come at night, leaving sufferers completely drenched in sweat. In some cases, these night sweats will be the first noticeable menopause symptom a woman has. While the perimenopause most often comes along during a woman's late forties or early fifties, premature menopause can strike women in their twenties, thirties, and even occasionally teens. 

Night Sweats As The Side Effect Of Medication

Medications, including Aspirin, prednisolone, and antidepressants, can have night sweats as a potential side effect. If you are on prescription medication or are using over the counter pain killers, please check your drug's package insert to find out whether your night sweats could be caused by this. 

Infections Can Lead To Night Sweats

Tuberculosis — which counts cough, fever, fatigue, rapid weight loss, loss of appetite, and swelling of the neck among its other symptoms — is the infection that most commonly induces night sweats. HIV, endocarditis, and osteomyelitis can cause night sweats, as well. 

Cancer And Night Sweats

Certain cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma, can likewise lead to night sweats. It is important not to take learning of this fact as a cause to immediately start worrying about the worst, however, as your night sweats are much more likely to be the result of different conditions — particularly if you have no other unusual symptoms at all. Lymphoma and leukemia both tend to lead to rapid weight loss and fatigue, for example. 

Could You Have Hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, will cause a person to feel weak and shaky, hungry, and will reduce their ability to concentrate. It also leads to excessive sweating, including night sweats. Hypoglycemia is often, but not always, a sign of diabetes.

Hyperthyroidism And Night Sweats

An overactive thyroid, also called hyperthyroidism, is another possible cause of night sweats. Other symptoms include trembling, unintentional weight loss, fatigue, sleeping difficulties, heart palpitations, and irritability. 

Other Potential Causes Of Night Sweats

One third of people suffering from sleep apnea, a condition in which normal breathing is disrupted during sleep, will experience night sweats. In rare cases, GERD, or Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, can also lead to nocturnal sweating. A final possible candidate is the abuse of alcohol or drugs. 

In women, especially women who are of the age where they can expect to be entering the menopause, the menopause is the most likely culprit. Despite that, both women and men who are experiencing night sweats should seek medical advice in order to receive a diagnosis. 


Where all other possible causes have been ruled out, people with unexplained night sweats will be diagnosed with idiopathic hyperhidrosis, or unexplained excessive sweating.


The fact that the cause of night sweats is unknown in this case does not mean no help is available — prescription antiperspirants and even strategically placed Botox can alleviate the condition. 

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