6 Medical Causes of Night Sweats

Is sweat interrupting your sleep? It’s an annoying symptom that can cause insomnia if you don’t receive treatment. Although it isn’t always a sign of a health problem, it’s best to talk to your doctor if your symptoms are excessive and prolonged.
6 Medical Causes of Night Sweats

Last update: 30 November, 2020

Sweat is the process through which your body regulates its temperature. It’s also how it regulates your levels of urea, essential amino acids, and other substances that are leftover from various processes. It typically occurs when you’re getting exercise or doing something that requires a lot of physical effort. However, many people suffer from excessive night sweats as well.

While sweat is a normal bodily response, it sometimes can interrupt your nights and become a problem for sleeping.

It might be easy to overlook it at first. However if it happens again and again it’s time to rule out any other medical conditions.

Many people might ignore the underlying causes. That’s why we want to share six factors that could be related.

1. Menopause

Menopause is the most frequent medical cause of night sweats in women. Abrupt hormonal changes, especially a drop in estrogen levels, are the main trigger.

Women who suffer from this problem can experience the sense that they are suffocating. This keeps them from being able to sleep and altering the heart rate.

  • To cope with these symptoms, it might be necessary to take a supplement to regulate hormonal activity.
  • In general, it’s a good idea to sleep in a cool environment with sheets made from natural fibers. Also, make sure to wear comfortable clothes.

2. Certain medications

Treatments based on certain medications might have this symptom as a side effect.

There are some studies that indicate that drugs for anxiety and depression can generate periods of night sweats.

Other associated treatments include:

  • Hormone therapy
  • Medications that reduce blood sugar levels
  • Cortisone, a steroid hormone used to treat inflammation and reduce pain

3. Tuberculosis

Most of the factors that are associated with night sweats aren’t serious or difficult problems to treat. However, they can be caused by chronic diseases, such as tuberculosis.

This disease dramatically compromises lung health and is almost always accompanied by episodes of sweating.

Your symptoms might appear along with:

  • Episodes of high fever
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing, with blood
  • Difficulty breathing

4. Neurological problems

Anxiety and nerves can raise your body temperature. This forces your body to sweat in order to restore it to its normal level. This is a completely natural response and does not only occur in the night.

When it happens over and over at night, however, it might be related to a medical condition linked to your neurological system, such as Parkinson’s disease and others.

  • The damage these diseases cause to your nervous system can interrupt the signals that go to your sweat glands. This results in this symptom.

5. Chronic hyperhidrosis

night sweats
Hyperhidrosis is the medical term used to describe excessive sweating. It’s a common disorder that doesn’t have any medical cause other than genetics, but is considered to be chronic.

For obvious reasons, patients who suffer from hyperhidrosis experience night sweats, to the point of feeling suffocated.

  • They need a cooler environment in order to rest because what most people would consider a “normal temperature” they think is too hot.
  • It doesn’t represent a serious health problem. However, it can be uncomfortable and difficult to cope with at times.

6. Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a condition that occurs when your thyroid gland produces hormones well above normal levels. Naturally, this affects your metabolism and you may start to experience discomfort and other changes in the body.

  • A strong feeling of fatigue during the day and excessive sweating at night should alert you to the fact that there’s a problem.
  • Hyperthyroidism is associated with an intolerance to heat. Thus, you will have to reduce the temperature of your bedroom to rest.
  • Other symptoms include changes in body weight, tremors in the hands, and excessive hair loss.

Is sweat interrupting your sleep? It’s an annoying symptom that can cause insomnia if you don’t receive treatment. Although it isn’t always a sign of a health problem, it’s best to talk to your doctor if your symptoms are excessive and prolonged.

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  • Hessemer, V., & Brück, K. (1985). Influence of menstrual cycle on shivering, skin blood flow, and sweating responses measured at night. Journal of Applied Physiology. https://doi.org/10.1152/jappl.1985.59.6.1902
  • James W. Mold. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Night Sweats in a Primary Care Population. Drugs Real World Outcomes. 2015 Mar; 2(1): 29–33. Published online 2015 Feb 7. doi: 10.1007/s40801-015-0007-8.
  • Mold, J. W., Holtzclaw, B. J., & McCarthy, L. (2012). Night Sweats: A Systematic Review of the Literature. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. https://doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.2012.06.120033
  • Takaaki Matsumoto. Effect of Thyroid Hormone on Thermal Sweating. Chukyo University.