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Night sweats

Definition

Night sweats are repeated episodes of extreme perspiration that may soak your nightclothes or bedding and are related to an underlying medical condition or illness.

You may occasionally awaken after having perspired excessively, particularly if you are sleeping under too many blankets or if your bedroom is too warm. Although uncomfortable, these episodes are usually not labeled as night sweats and typically aren't a sign of a medical problem.

In general, night sweats are also associated with fever, weight loss, localized pain, cough, diarrhea, or other symptoms of concern.

Causes

Medications that can cause night sweats

Night sweats are a common side effect of many medications, such as:

  • Depression medications (antidepressants)
  • Hormone-blocking drugs used to treat certain cancers (hormone therapy)
  • Drugs used to treat diabetes (if the level of sugar in your blood gets too low) (hypoglycemic agents)

Medical conditions that can cause night sweats

Diseases and conditions that can cause night sweats include:

  • Anxiety
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Autonomic neuropathy (damage to your autonomic nerves)
  • Brucellosis (a bacterial infection)
  • Carcinoid syndrome (a certain type of cancerous tumor in your intestines)
  • Drug addiction (substance use disorder) (alcohol, opioids, cocaine, cannabis, benzodiazepines)
  • Endocarditis (an infection of your heart valves)
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma (Hodgkin's disease) (Hodgkin's disease)
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Leukemia
  • Myelofibrosis (a bone marrow disorder)
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Osteomyelitis (a bone infection)
  • Pheochromocytoma (a rare adrenal gland tumor)
  • Pyogenic abscess (a pus-filled cavity caused by an infection)
  • Sleep disorders (such as obstructive sleep apnea)
  • Stroke
  • Syringomyelia (a fluid-filled cyst in the spinal cord)
  • Thyroid disease
  • Tuberculosis

Night sweats and hot flashes are very common among women around the time of menopause. If you are around age 50 and are having irregular or absent menstrual periods, and have no other symptoms, this is likely the cause of your symptoms.

When to see a doctor

Schedule a doctor's visit if night sweats:

  • Occur on a regular basis
  • Interrupt your sleep
  • Are accompanied by a fever, weight loss, localized pain, cough, diarrhea, or other symptoms of concern.
  • Come on after your menopause symptoms have been absent for months to years.

Last updated: December 20th, 2017

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