7 Possible Causes of Night Sweats.

Night sweats are not an uncommon problem and if you are getting them frequently they can disturb your quality of sleep. We think of them most commonly in connection with the menopause but there are other causes and you won’t be thinking of the menopause if you’re a man or the wrong age!

Here we’re going to look at a few of those other reasons for night sweats. Some of them seem a bit frightening so this hub is for top-line information only. If you’re at all concerned you should do a little more research on a good website such as http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ or www.patient.co.uk and see your doctor if you’re still concerned.

Reason 1. The room is too hot.

It sounds obvious doesn’t it? But if you sleep in a room that’s too warm or poorly ventilated, or under sheets, blankets or a duvet that’s too heavy, you’re going to overheat. Sweating is the body’s natural reaction and you may simply wake up feeling too hot or be so drenched in sweat that you need to change the bedding. Everyone’s different.

Commonly bed partners with differing temperature needs sleep in the same bed. So you may have heavy, warm bedding or a warm room so that your colder partner can sleep but you can’t sleep because you’re too hot. The answer is to find a ‘his and hers duvet’ – and there’s a hub about it here. This duvet will allow you to construct bedding with the warmth level to suit you both without having to have separate duvets.

There are more comprehensive tips here on designing your bedroom for better sleep.

Reason 2. The menopause.

I’ve included this because it’s one of the most common causes of night sweats for women aged 45-55.

The onset of your menopause will depend on:

  • the age your mother was when she went through the menopause
  • if you’ve had surgical removal of the ovaries
  • some medications such as tamoxifen, Prostap or Zoladex.

Talk to your doctor if you think you might be starting to go through the menopause and discuss treatment options. Some doctors are more supportive than others when it comes to alternative therapies for the menopause but you might want to consider Black Cohosh (you may need liver function monitoring while taking this), phyto-oestrogens, valerian, soy isoflavines or acupuncture.

Reason 3. Idiopathic hyperhidrosis.

Translated from the medical terminology, this means ‘sweating too much and for no medical cause that can be found.’

It’s frustrating but does mean that you don’t have any of the causes of night sweats below which, medically, are more serious.

If your under arms or palms are a particular problem for sweating, then some surgical procedures may help. Discuss these with your doctor.

Reason 4. An overactive thyroid.

The thyroid gland sits at the front of the neck and produces the hormone thyroxine. Thyroxine is a powerful chemical that regulates the metabolic speed of all the body’s cells.

Too little thyroxine and nothing works fast enough. Too much and everything works too fast so you feel too hot, jittery and on-edge, you may have diarrhoea, heart burn and other symptoms. Look here for more information about the over active thyroid.

Reason 5. Infections.

Infections cause the body to mobilise its resources in order to defend itself. This inflammatory action causes a raised body temperature. If you have flu or tonsillitis for example, you’ll know how unwell you feel and how hot/cold etc. Other infections are less obvious in that you don’t feel so unwell all the time, but one symptom could be night sweats.

Tuberculosis is becoming more common in some populations. Doctors caring for immigrant communities or those living in poor housing have reported a rise in the cases of TB.

It can infect nearly any organ but the lungs are common, and it can be active or dormant (inactive).

Other bacterial infections such as osteomyelitis (bone inflammation), endocarditis (infection in the heart valves), abscesses, and viral infections such as AIDS/HIV can all cause symptoms of night sweats.

Reason 6. Cancers.

Cancers such as lymphomas can cause night sweats in their early stages. There are other symptoms too, such as weight loss and day time fevers.

Reason 7. Medications.

If you think your medication may cause your night sweats then read the patient information leaflet that comes with it and talk to your prescriber.

Drugs that commonly cause night sweats include:

· Some antidepressants

· Niacin (vitamin B3) which is used for a wide range of conditions from high cholesterol, migraine and some skin conditions to vitamin B deficiency.

· Tamoxifen – used for people with breast cancer

· Hydralazine – used for high blood pressure

· Sildenafil (Viagra) – used for erectile dysfunction (impotence)

· Cortisone (prednisone, prednisolone) – used for inflammatory conditions and sometimes in COPD.

Finally...

It’s worth repeating that a symptom of night sweats shouldn’t be taken in isolation – what other symptoms, if any, do you have? Do you sweat a lot in the day? What’s the inside and temperature?

If in doubt, don’t worry yourself sick – talk to your doctor!

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