Sweating at night is normal if you sleep in a room with poor air ventilation or if you wear multiple layers of clothing, but there may be instances where you find yourself drenched in sweat in the middle of the night. Your room has proper air conditioning, and you are wearing comfortable clothes, so what is making you sweat heavily? If this has happened to you on multiple occasions, you might be suffering from night sweats.
What are night sweats?
Night sweats happen when a person experiences excessive sweating at night. This happens to both men and women specifically at night. A condition similar to this is when menopausal women experience hot flashes at any time of the day.
Doctors consider a person to be suffering from legitimate night sweats if their perspiration soaks their clothing and bed sheets. This may be caused by a specific condition or medication, and not by environmental factors.
Are night sweats a symptom of another medical condition?
It is possible that night sweats occur as a symptom of an underlying medical condition that you might have. While it varies from person to person, night sweat may be a sign of the following conditions:
- Perimenopause and menopause, wherein women may experience night sweats as a form of hot flashes
- Hormonal imbalance, which is also a sign of various disorders such as carcinoid syndrome and hyperthyroidism
- Idiopathic hyperhidrosis, the condition in which the body produces too much sweat for unknown reasons
- Serious infections, such as tubercolosis, osteomyelitis, and even HIV infection
- Cancers, which can also be accompanied with strange weight loss and fever
How do I treat night sweats?
While it is true that night sweats can be caused by an underlying medical condition, it is possible to address night sweats while receiving treatment (especially during menopause). The following can be done to ease the discomfort brought about by night sweats:
- Sleep in a cool and well-ventilated environment with breathable and comfortable clothes.
- Try not to use thick comforters and blankets.
- Avoid drinking coffee and alcohol.
- Lessen your intake of spicy and garlicky food.
- Use clinical-strength antiperspirants on areas where you might sweat the most, i.e. back, feet, palms, neck, and underarms.
- Avoid consuming food 2-3 hours before sleeping.
- Lessen your intake on foods that are high in fat and sugar.
- Always use an air conditioner or a fan.
- Do some breathing exercises before you go to sleep and if you wake up due to night sweats.
- Work out every day.
- Keep a normal and healthy weight.
- Keep yourself hydrated and drink lots of water.
Is it possible to experience night sweats as a side effect of a medication?
If you do not have a medical condition that causes night sweats, it’s highly possible that it may be caused by a medication you’re currently taking. It’s best to talk to the health professional who prescribed your medication if you suddenly experience night sweats.
Oftentimes, night sweats are a side effect of antidepressants, especially venlafaxine and sertraline. There are other medications that are said to have the same side effects like acetaminophen and aspirin, but it’s likely that the side effect comes from the condition being treated (influenza) rather than the medication itself. Painkillers such as aspirin and acetaminophen can also cause night sweats occasionally.
Other medications such as hydralazine, niacin, nitroglycerine, sildenafil (also known as Viagra), and tamoxifen may lead to flushing or the redness of the skin, which may be confused with night sweats.
When should I call a doctor?
If you think that environmental factors such as poor air conditioning and thick clothing is what causes your night sweats, you don’t have to worry. Making your room conducive to better sleeping is a great way to prevent yourself from being drenched in sweat and have a good night’s sleep.
However, you should be concerned if there aren’t any environmental factors that may affect your sleep and yet you still wake up at night, sweating profusely to the point that your clothes and bed sheets are soaked in perspiration. Watch out for other signs that you might be suffering from night sweats—which may turn out to be a symptom of an underlying medical condition—such as strange weight loss, fever, body pain, chills, coughing up blood, and stomach pain. If you do, it’s best to contact a doctor as soon as possible.