Alternative names: Sleep Hyperhidrosis or Nocturnal Hyperhydrosis.
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 1,000cc of sweat each day. A person with a perspiration disorder will produce much more. Although the causes of night sweats are many, generally they are symptomatic of underlying disease.
Sweating is a natural body function, but if it becomes bad enough to wake you up night after night, wet and shivering, it has gone beyond "natural" and the cause should be determined.
Unfortunately, sometimes there doesn't seem to be a definitive cause.
People suffering from night sweats wake up in damp or soaked bedding, feeling either too hot or slightly cold.
The best way to treat night sweats is to eliminate the cause. It may be necessary to go through the list of possible causes and eliminate them one by one. If no cause seems to be forthcoming, then you may suffer from Primary Hyperhydrosis. This disorder can become severe enough to interfere with day-to-day life, and consists not only of night sweats, but of excessive sweating throughout the day. If severe enough, your doctor may suggest surgery for the removal of the sweat glands.
Possibly beneficial lifestyle changes include avoidance of alcohol and spicy foods. Talk to your doctor about any medications that you are taking to see if they could be the cause. Sleep in a cool room and, if weather permits, leave the window open, or try using a fan. Get up and take a shower or a sponge bath; change your bedding and put on fresh nightwear; have a cold drink such as water or fruit juice. A cold shower before bed might prevent an attack of night sweats.
According to Chinese medical theory, night sweats are associated with a yin essence (body essence). The diminished state is due to a depletion of body fluids and nutrients. Symptoms include flushed cheeks, warm palms and soles, a dry mouth, red lips, small quantities of dark urine, a red tongue with slight coating, a weak and rapid pulse, and low-grade fevers. Chinese medicine states that if there is a wasting away caused by a consumptive disease, then yin deficiency must be present. (For this reason, HIV disease is therefore often diagnosed as a yin deficiency.)
This symptom may be one of many associated with mercury toxicity.
Tuberculosis (TB) is the classic cause of night sweats. Early on the immune system typically controls the infection and few if any symptoms develop. Then, later in life, the infection may reactivate, causing a chronic pneumonia with fever, night sweats, weight loss and cough. Sometimes the infection involves the lungs minimally, if at all. If you have had night sweats for more than a month or two without any other symptoms, tuberculosis would be less likely but not impossible.
Various fungal infections are associated with chronic night sweats. Histoplasmosis, an infection usually seen in the southeastern, mid-Atlantic and central United States, is one such illness. You are less likely to have histoplasmosis or another fungal infection if you have had night sweats for more than a few months with no other symptoms.
Mycobacterium avium infection can cause night sweats. A mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) diagnostic test can be done to identify the infection or rule it out. MAC is common in women with HIV/AIDS and can be deadly if left untreated.
Several malignancies can lead to night sweats.
Night sweats or their daytime version, hot flashes, may be the first symptom of low estrogen. In both cases, the profuse sweating follows a brief but intense wave of heat, usually in the face and chest.
Your body is a highly complex, interconnected system. Instead of guessing at what might be wrong, let us help you discover what is really going on inside your body based on the many clues it is giving.
Our multiple symptom checker provides in-depth health analysis by The Analyst™ with full explanations, recommendations and (optionally) doctors available for case review and answering your specific questions.