Night Sweats- All About Night Sweats

Have you ever woken up with soaked pajamas or bed sheets and wondered why you were having night sweats? Night sweats are a common complaint to primary care physicians that can cause great concern to patients. In general, even though you may have to change your sheets or pajamas, night sweats are not usually a serious medical condition.

What are some possible causes of Night Sweats?

You may, however, may want to consider the top 8 causes of night sweats if your night sweats go on for more than a few days:

1. Is your room too hot? Did you have anything to drink? Try wearing less to bed, removing warm bedding, turning on a fan or turning down your air conditioning to see if the night sweats continue. In people who get flushing from drinking alcohol, this usually occurs soon after drinking and is readily apparent.

2. Medications: A number of different medications can cause night sweats as side effects. Symptoms from medications such as flushing may also be perceived as night sweats. Some people experience night sweats after starting medications and your body may adjust after a short period. If you are experiencing night sweats after beginning any of the following medications for more than a few days, you may want to talk with your doctor. Examples of medications that may cause night sweats include:

  • Niacin: a cholesterol medication.
  • Tamoxifen: a medication used in some women for breast cancer treatment.
  • Hydralazine: a blood pressure medication.
  • Nitroglycerin: a medication used in patients with certain heart conditions.
  • Sildenafil (Viagra): a treatment for erectile dysfunction.
  • Antipyretic medications: Ibuprofen or acetaminophen used to treat fever can sometimes produce sweating.
  • Antidepessants: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs commonly cause night sweats in patients.
  • Triptans: A class of drugs used to treat migraine headaches.
  • Omeprazole: A drug used to treat acid reflux.

3. Diabetes treatments: Medications used to treat diabetes (e.g. insulin or oral hypoglycemic drugs) that cause a lowering blood sugar can also cause sweating if the blood sugar gets too low. While patients normally experience other symptoms of hypoglycemia, night sweats could be the only symptom.

4. Cancer: While many types of cancers can have fever as one of the presenting symptoms, lymphomas are most commonly associated with fever. Patients usually also present with other symptoms such as weight loss and fatigue.

5. Infections: There are a number of different kinds of infections can present with fever and night sweats. If you think you’re night sweats may be due to infection, talk with your doctor to get evaluated.

6. Thyroid and other endocrine problems: Sweating and flushing can sometimes with the symptom of an overactive thyroid gland called hyperthyroidism. Uncommonly, these symptoms can be a sign of other conditions such as pheochromocytoma, a tumor in one of your glands called the adrenal gland.

7. Neurologic conditions: Sometimes damage to nerves following trauma can cause sweat glands to be overactive. Also, some patients may have increased sweating following a stroke.

8. Idiopathic hyperhidrosis: This is a medical term which means you are sweating, but your doctor can’t figure out why.

Night Sweats- What Do I Do Now

If your night sweats continue for more than a few days, continually awake you from sleep, or if you have an elevated temperature or weight loss, schedule an appointment to be evaluated by a doctor. Your doctor will take a history from you and perform a physical exam. Based on those finding your doctor may just monitor your night sweats or refer you for other testing.

Reference

University of Maryland. Accessed August 29, 2010. Hyperdidrosis.

Mayo Clinic. Accessed August 29, 2010. Night Sweats.

Mold JW, Lawler F. Accessed August 29, 2010. The Prognostic Implications of Night Sweats in Two Cohorts of Older Patients.