Night Sweats

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What Are Night Sweats?

Night sweats are a common non-specific symptom experienced by patients and can vary in severity. Physiological sweating at night may be caused by an excessively high ambient temperature or insufficient heat dissipation by the body due to inadequately selected bedding.

Once these factors are eliminated, consulting with a general practitioner is recommended if the issue persists, as profuse sweating could be a sign of an underlying health problem.

Do Night Sweats Affect Many People?

Night sweatsTrusted Source are a common occurrence that affects many individuals for various reasons. While not a condition or disease in and of themselves, they are a bodily response to countless factors. As such, there are no definitive summary statistics on the matter.

SweatingTrusted Source is a natural process that helps to regulate the body's temperature, enabling it to maintain an optimal, constant state. However, it is significant to note that if excessive sweating is frequent, intense, and persistent and is accompanied by other alarming symptoms, it is advisable to seek medical attention without delay and undergo the necessary diagnostic tests.

Night Sweats: What Are, Causes, How To Manage

In cases where intense sweating manifests during nighttime, it most likely indicates an underlying disease or condition. As such, it is essential to seek medical attention to rule out any potential health issues.

Causes

The causes of night sweatingTrusted Source are diverse – from trivial to deadly serious. They may be a simple physiological reaction to too high a room temperature, but also a symptom of numerous infectious, metabolic, hormonal, psychological, and even cancer disorders and diseases. Potentially responsible for this state of affairs are, among others:

Infections

Nocturnal sweating during infectionTrusted Source, such as colds, flu, pneumonia, or angina, is predominantly a natural body response. This reaction is regulated by the thermoregulation center, which protects the body against overheating in response to a significantly elevated temperature. Fever, up to a certain level, is considered a positive symptom, as it accelerates the body's independent fight against pathogens by slowing down their multiplication and making their survival more difficult. However, if fever reaches very high levels, it may pose a risk to internal organs.

To counteract the excessive heat, the nervous system stimulates the sweat glands to become active, which promotes sweating. This process allows the water to evaporate and cool the body. Since the evening is generally the time of the highest temperature, it is not unusual for sweating to occur at night. However, it is important to note that there is no scientific evidence to support the notion that sweating can “sweat out the disease,” i.e., remove the pathogens responsible for the infection from the body.

Notably, nocturnal sweating during illness may occur naturally or due to medications taken to reduce fever. Excessive sweating following an illness, on the other hand, is commonly related to significant body weakness, particularly if the patient has taken antibiotics.

Various Diseases

Night sweats are a symptom not only of typical and common infections but also of other diseases and disorders, such as:

Mental Disorders

Night sweats are one of the unusual but relatively common vegetative symptoms of various types of mood disordersTrusted Source, such as in particular neurotic and anxiety disorders (neurosis, phobias, etc.) and the inability to adapt to stressful situations.

Anxiety, Depression, And Stress

AnxietyTrusted Source, depression, and stress are significant contributors to the dysregulation of the human body. These factors lead to the increased release of hormones, such as adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol. The consequences of this dysregulation may include accelerated heart rate, an increase in blood pressure and body temperature, general psychomotor agitation, muscle tension, as well as the activation of apocrine glands located in various areas of the body, including the armpits, groin, and intimate areas.

Night Sweats: What Are, Causes, How To Manage

Nightmares

Night sweats can also result from nightmaresTrusted Source, which stimulate the body's endocrine activity and may also affect the autonomic nervous system. They often cause increased muscle tension and general agitation, leading to excessive sweating during the night.

Antidepressants

Sweating at night can also be an undesirable side effect of antidepressantsTrusted Source. This effect is potentially caused by many preparations used to treat depression, including selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic drugs, and others.

Drinking Alcohol

Night sweats after drinking alcoholTrusted Source, especially in large quantities, are almost a classic problem. This happens for various reasons, including:

Moreover, increased sweating, especially at night, should also be taken into account after giving up alcohol – it is one of the most typical symptoms of the so-called withdrawal syndrome.

Before The Period

Night sweats before menstruationTrusted Source are among the range of symptoms that characterize premenstrual syndrome (PMS). They typically occur during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and are considered a natural response to the physiological changes that occur in a woman's body during this time.

Though most commonly experienced by women aged 25-35, the intensity of PMS symptoms may vary and persist throughout the reproductive lifespan, from the onset of sexual maturity to menopause. The underlying causes of PMS are complex and not yet fully understood. However, prevailing research suggests that the diverse symptoms are linked to ongoing endocrine alterations, particularly the influence of sex hormones, notably estrogens, on neurotransmitter hormones, such as serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid.

If ovulation does not fertilize, estrogen levels decrease, slightly increasing core body temperature and reducing thermal tolerance. This may manifest as nocturnal perspiration before the onset of menstruation.

During Pregnancy

Night sweats during pregnancyTrusted Source are a source of worry for many future mothers, like any other symptom that has never been seen before. Therefore, it should be noted that this symptom, although bothersome and a bit embarrassing for some people, is usually completely natural and not associated with any threats.

Night sweating in pregnant women, especially at the beginning of pregnancy, is caused by factors such as:

It rarely happens that the background is more severe health problems. One of them is gestational diabetes. It is the most common of all metabolic complications occurring in this particular period of life, but sweating is not one of its typical symptoms. Importantly, night sweats also occur after childbirth and during breastfeeding. Also, in this case, the cause is rapid changes in the level of sex hormones.

Night Sweats: What Are, Causes, How To Manage

Menopause

Night sweats during menopauseTrusted Source are a more than typical symptom. This is a common symptom. It usually occurs with characteristic hot flashes. The reasons for this state of affairs usually include the following phenomena:

Night sweats and hot flashes may appear already in the premenopausal period, i.e., just before the actual menopause.

When Should Night Sweats In A Child Be A Concern?

In childrenTrusted Source, night sweats are less frequently indicative of serious illnesses, some of which are rare in pediatric populations, and more often signify viral and bacterial infections and inadequate sleep hygiene. This can be attributed to the relatively undeveloped state of a child's immune system, which matures gradually until adolescence, rendering them more susceptible to infections.

Moreover, being near large peer groups in settings such as nurseries, kindergartens, and schools facilitates the transmission of infectious agents, leading to frequent occurrences of flu and colds, which provoke intense sweating in febrile children as a customary thermoregulatory response.

Night sweats in children can also arise from overheating, which is frequently due to a common misconception that infants should sleep in a warm environment. Consequently, many parents keep windows tightly shut, employ round and curled radiators, and dress their children in thick rompers and pajamas, hats, and down eiderdowns. Yet, it has been established that such practices are erroneous.

Causes

Of course, it cannot be ruled out that the problem is much more severe, especially if excessive sweating is chronic. The potential cause could then be:

As you can see, there are so many potential causes that if night sweats persist for a long time, you should take your child to a doctor immediately.

How To Manage?

How to deal with night sweats? It all depends on the cause. If excessive sweating at night is related to overheating, it is enough to ensure thermal comfort in the bedroom. However, in the case of more serious diseases, their treatment is the basis.

To combat or minimize the unpleasant symptoms of night sweating:

Sources

May 14, 2024
10 minutes read
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