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Night Sweats -Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Updated on September 20, 2016
Pamela99 profile image

I have been writing about medical issues and all the new medical advances since spending 22 years in the nursing profession.

What are Night Sweats

Night sweats are episodes of nighttime sweating which can soak your hair; nightclothes and bedding even though the room is cool. This is a common problem for many people at least occasionally and while night sweats are uncomfortable, they aren’t typically a sign of a medical problem. Women have this problem more often then men due to menopause.

I have experienced this problem, waking up with my face, hair and pillow wet and sometimes my gown along with the sheets, and it really is aggravating to me. It is not due to menopause in my case and my doctor has no clue as to why this happens. I am glad to report it happens only rarely.

The Hypothalamus Causes the Problem

For the more technically minded individual, the brain is ultimately responsible for night sweats (sleep hyperhidrosis). The hypothalamus should control the body temperature (thermoregulation). Its job is to send a message to the pituitary gland. When the hypothalamus doesn’t function properly due to some problem, it sends the wrong messages to the pituitary, which communicates with the rest of the body. Messages are sent to the rest of the body causing sweat glands go into overtime and work to cool you down, even when you’re not hot.

Night sweats is a common perspiration disorder that occurs during sleep and stops upon waking. Night sweats involve not simply sweating a lot at night, but literally drenching the bed. A healthy person produces between 500 and 1,000 cc of sweat each day. A person with a perspiration disorder will produce much more.


Night Sweat Triggers

There are some triggers that can cause this problem:

  • Caffeine
  • Exercise
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipyretics
  • Hypoglycemic agents that decrease blood sugar
  • Hormone therapy –medications that regulate the amount of hormones in your body
  • Menopause and hot flashes

Peri-menopause can be the problem as less progesterone is like losing your Valium as your estrogen and progesterone are being depleted. Weight loss along with night sweats can be a cause for concern. The worst-case scenario is you may have cancer or diabetes. See a doctor if these sweats occur on a regular basis, interrupt your sleep or if you also have a fever and other symptoms.

For men, many doctors believe they will have night sweats due to the andropause phase which is similar to the better known menopause experienced by women.

Diseases that can Cause Night Sweats

There are several diseases that can also cause night sweats, such being on chemotherapy as it depletes the estrogen, HIV, ADS, autonomic neuropathy, chronic sinusitis, brucellosis (bacterial infection), endocarditis, tuberculosis, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, sleep apnea, hypothalamic lesions, epilepsy, stroke, cerebral palsy, migraine, spinal cord infarction, head injury, familial dysautomia and several types of medications. Sometimes no cause can be determined.

Possible Helpful Natural Remedies

There isn’t a specific treatment for night sweats unless they are due to an underlying disease but, there a few things that might help alleviate the symptoms. Flaxseed powder and flaxseed oil are both helpful. Flaxseed powder is thought to turn on the estrogen receptors just enough to keep them calm. Licorice root extract and you can just take just a couple of droplets, which can be put in tea. It can reduce hot flashes significantly.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies for women with hot flashes include:

  • Plants that cool the system, such as chickweed, elder and violet;
  • Plants that nourish or increase oxygen utilization in the liver, such as dong quai, dandelion, Ho Shou Wu (polygonum multiflorum) and yellow dock; and
  • Plants rich in phytosterols, such as black cohosh.

Product Features on Amazon Display

There is some sleepwear called NiteSweatz that is advertised as being more comfortable. There are several types of bedding that should also help from sheets, pillows to blankets

Wicking Sheets come in all sizes and might be helpful.

Product Features:

  • Made from patented Dri-Release Fabric that is moisture Wicking and Quick Drying.
  • King Size comes with 2 king size pillow cases
  • King = 78" X 80" -- 112" X 102"
  • Stay Cool Sheets - Dri-Release Moisture Wicking Sheets made by Nidraa

There are also cool comforters that you might find helpful.

Product Features:

  • Outlast Cal-King Comforter: 110" x 100"
  • Made with Outlast technology: Not Too hot, Not Too Cool!
  • Temperature regulating comforter that will help you sleep cool
  • Outlast Gold Certified
  • Sleep Cooler - Sleep Better with CoolingMattress.com Bedding


Symptom - Fever and Night Sweats

Primary Hyperhydrosis

Obviously if you can eliminate the cause that is the best way to treat night sweats. Sometimes they must be eliminated one at a time. If there is no cause forthcoming, you may suffer from Primary Hyperhydrosis. This disorder can become severe enough to interfere with your daily life and can eventually consist of day time sweating as well. If it becomes severe enough you doctor may suggest surgery to remove your sweat glands.

Summary

As this disease quite often is not easy to diagnosis, it would be worth making some lifestyle changes, such as cutting out the coffee, alcohol or spicy foods to see if it helps. Trying flax seed or some of the herbal remedies is also an option. There is some more comfortable night clothing that can be purchased, along with the bedding that helps to cool the body. Night sweats, which wake you up because you are soaking wet are not fun if they happen frequently and are interconnected with another disease, then you need to know.

© 2010 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

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  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    DDE, Thank you so much for your comments.

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Night Sweats -Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment is thoroughly researched and you always present such informative hubs.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

    Patricia, Thanks for your comments. I think most of us women have had a hot flash or two, but it was no big deal for me either. Love those angels and sending some to you also. I hope you have a good evening also. Thanks for the share.

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

    This article is so very helpful. I am so thankful I do not have night sweats. I had a very mild menopause and had very few hot flashes either. I do have family members who are plagued by this so am passing this on to them.

    Angels and hugs and all are on the way to you, Pamela. Have a lovely evening ps Pinned and Shared

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

    moonlake, Night sweats can occur for so many reasons that it is not always easy to figure out exactly why, as in the case of your husband. Cold sweats are not uncommon either. I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

    bdegiulo, I hope this hub gave you some possible clues. Thanks for your comments.

  • moonlake profile image

    moonlake 5 years ago from America

    I never had the sweats where I soaked the sheets. During menopause I had cold sweats and still have them if I get nervous. I also had cold sweats when my heart was bad and I didn't know it. I would wake at night in a cold sweat.

    When we were first married my husband would break out in a sweat every night and soak the sheets and everything he had on. I worried about him but it ended up being nothing.

    Great hub. Voted uP!

  • bdegiulio profile image

    Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

    Pamela. Great Hub. Both my wife and I get this every now and then. When I get night sweats it's really bad, I am literally soaked. I have often wondered why this happens and it looks like it could be any number of reasons. Thank for sharing with us.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

    Peggy, Night sweats are no fun, as I've had that neat little experience also. Since they can happen for other reasons, it is good information to know. I appreciate your comments.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

    I well remember those days when I was going through menopause. Thankfully those days are past. I did not realize that so many other conditions could cause the night sweats. This hub is useful and interesting and I plan to share it so that others can learn from it. Thanks!

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

    rajan jolly, I would imagine women might be more prone to night sweats due to menopause, but I do not have any statistics to prove this. I agree that preventative measures are very important. Thank you for your comments.

    jainismus, Thank your so much for your comments.

  • jainismus profile image

    Mahaveer Sanglikar 5 years ago from Pune, India

    Great Hub. Thank you for sharing this information of night sweating.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

    Very useful info and well presented Pamela. Just wanna know, are women more prone to night sweats?

    It's better to take preventive measure as well as natural remedies to treat it.

    voting it up, useful and shared.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Bryan, I'm glad the hub was helpful to you and I appreciate your comments.

  • profile image

    Bryan - I Sweat Too Much! 6 years ago

    I love the wicking sheets idea! Sometimes I find myself beneath a feather blanket, and man can that make someone sweat! Thanks for sharing the technical side of excessive night sweating as well!

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Support Med, I very much appreciate your comments.

  • Support Med. profile image

    Support Med. 6 years ago from Michigan

    Very informative. Excellent guideline on what to use if one suffers from it. v/r

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Granny's House, I'm glad this hub was helpful and than your for your comments.

  • Granny's House profile image

    Granny's House 6 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

    I have night sweats too. Thank you for this info. Well done.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    fastfreda, I'm glad you stopped by my hub and I appreciate your comments.

  • fastfreta profile image

    Alfreta Sailor 6 years ago from Southern California

    I never had night sweats, but I can sympathize with you and others that do. However this hub helps explain the condition very well. Very good Pamela.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Jennifer, I hope the flax seeds help because the night sweat are most annoying. Thanks for your comments.

  • Jennifer Lynch profile image

    Jennifer Lynch 6 years ago from Stowmarket, Suffolk.

    Brilliant hub this. I need to sort out my night sweats so very useful information here - will try the flax seeds.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    KK Gals, I'm glad to hear yours went away. Thanks for your comment.

  • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

    Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Pamela, what great information. Night sweats used to drive me crazy, they still do on occasion. Great hub. Voted up and useful.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Mickey Dee, It is quite likely the surgery has something to do with it although I don't know what type of surgery you had, but if it continues it might be worth a doctor's visit. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Micky Dee profile image

    Micky Dee 6 years ago

    Pamela- I was going to run right by this hub. I immediately thought, "this is a woman's thing". Then my "half-himers" took a vacation and I remembered that last night as for a few nights I've woke to "sweats". Last night I actually had to change sides of the bed because of the sweat. I turn my thermostat down from 68 to 62. I go to bed cold. I curl to stay warm. I wake to sweats. Maybe mine is more temporary because of my surgery, which is getting so much better. God bless!

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    rpalulis, Certainly fevers and illness can cause this to happen. Thanks for your comments.

    Audry, I was surprised at the amount of bedding available and yes I would think it is a good seller. Thanks for your comment.

    Hello, I appreciate your comment and I'm glad you haven't had the experience.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

    It must be really horrid. I never experienced it. This well written hub with good solid advise must be of great help to sufferers.

  • akirchner profile image

    Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

    Interesting article, Pamela and I had no idea that they had bedding and garments to make it better! Definitely a problem for a lot of women 'of a certain age'....the companies could stand to make a fortune!

  • rpalulis profile image

    rpalulis 6 years ago from NY

    I see how this could be extremely annoying if happening on a regular basis. The last time I had the flu i had woken up in the middle of the night soaking wet from sweat, probably the fever breaking, and maybe unwanted toxins leaving my body? Anyhow it was for sure really uncomfortable and would hate to have to deal with something like this on a regular basis.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Nellieanna, I know many women go through exactly what you described, but thankfully it does eventually go away. Thank you for sharing your experience and your comment.

  • Nellieanna profile image

    Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

    It's been many years since menopause hot flashes & those horrid sweats for me. Only experience I've ever had with that most uncomfortable experience. Glad it is over and done with. I'm most fortunate to be quite healthy - for anyone of any age, but especially of mine! My heart goes out to those who suffer so many maladies. And meds for one seems to lead to other maladies.

    Your article is certainly valuable and should be most helpful for those plagued with this discomfort chronically,

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    JY Thanks so much for your comment.

    Dallas,

    I appreciate your comment.

  • dallas93444 profile image

    Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

    Thanks for sharing. Great information.

  • JY3502 profile image

    John Young 7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

    Very good article Pam.Brought back memories of my days as a surgical tech.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    peacefulparadox, I had no idea so I looked it up on Google and and I think it is about 1 cup to 2 cups in 24 hours roughly. I hope that answers your question.

  • profile image

    peacefulparadox 7 years ago

    That's interesting: "A healthy person produces between 500 and 1,000 cc of sweat each day"

    About how many gallons is that? I curious to picture how many milk gallon jugs that would be about. I'm not familiar with "cc".

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Katie, I hope it helps him, and he may need to see a doctor to rule out a thyroid problem or whatever might be causing the problem. Thanks for your comment.

  • katiem2 profile image

    katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

    This is good to know, I have a male friend that has been experiencing night sweats and it's helpful to learn all the reasons so I can pass this along to help out. Thanks Pamela :)

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    FloBe, I appreciate you comment.

    Martie, Thanks so much for all your kind words. I appreciate your comments. Yes, I did read that hub and thank you so much for including me.

    Katrinasui, Thank you so much for your comment.

  • katrinasui profile image

    katrinasui 7 years ago

    A nice hub with lots of good information. Thankfully it doesn't happen too often with me.

  • MartieCoetser profile image

    Martie Coetser 7 years ago from South Africa

    You do this so well, Pamela – your research is deep and thorough, and your presentation is perfect – focused – short and sweat.... :))) .... sweet. Hot flushes during the night make me throw off the blanket, but fortunately no excessive sweating. It can’t be nice to wake up in a pool of sweat. But my turn may come, that is why I’ve bookmarked this. My best wishes to you.

    PS.: Did you see you are a member of HubPages Symphony Orchestra. Go c 4 yourself.

  • FloBe profile image

    FloBe 7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    Good and helpful information. Thankfully it doesn't happen too often. But I will try the flax seed and the licorice (I like licorice anyway!)

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Docmo, You must have some medical background and thanks for the correction. I appreciate your comments.

  • Docmo profile image

    Mohan Kumar 7 years ago from UK

    Useful hub. Great info and good list of differential diagnosis. Just a small correction: the increased sweating disease with no underlying cause is called ' Primary HYPER-HYDROSIS' which literally means increased- water production and not HYPE -THYDROSIS. Hope this helps.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Darski, You are do funny and I thank you for the award. Love and Peach to you girlfiend

  • Darlene Sabella profile image

    Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

    Oh how I remember the change of life sweats, yet that never ends, over the years it comes and goes. Also I do take many different meds, and the summer and I have a heard time, that is why I live in a colder area of the country. You are so awesome, a great writer, a fantastic friend and I give you the writer award...lalalalallala love & peace darski rate up

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    mwatkins, I am so glad my hub was helpful to you. I have been doing a lot of relaxation breathing and some meditation over the past few months plus eating flaxseed in cereal and on salad. Those things seem to have helped me. Thanks so much for your comment.

  • mwatkins profile image

    mwatkins 7 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC

    Love it - I have been having night sweats for about a year - they are really awful. One thing I noticed that seems to help too are relaxation exercises if I wake up and seem to feel anxious, I practice relaxation breathing techniques and talk to myself - literally talking myself out of having them. And that works great. Thanks for your other tips! They are hugely helpful! I had no idea that night sweats coupled with weight loss could mean a warning sign of cancer. Wise advice to have and pass on! Thank you!