Night sweats, can be due to many causes and although not always worrying, in some cases it may indicate the presence of a disease. It is therefore important to see in which situations it arises and if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as a fever, chills or weight loss, for example, as it may be caused because of a simple increase in room or body temperature at night, or hormonal changes or metabolic disorders, infections, neurological diseases or even cancer.
You may also suffer from a condition called hyperhidrosis, which is the excessive production of perspiration by the sweat glands, generalized in the body or located in the hands, armpits, neck or legs, but that happens at any time of the day.
So, as there are several causes for this type of symptom, whenever it occurs persistently or intensely, it is important to talk to the family doctor or general practitioner so that possible causes are investigated. Some of the main causes of night sweats include:
1. Increase in body temperature
When body temperature rises, whether through physical activity, high room temperature, consumption of thermogenic foods such as pepper, ginger, alcohol and caffeine, anxiety, or the presence of an infectious fever such as a flu, for example, perspiration comes as a way for the body to try to cool the body and keep it from overheating.
However, if no obvious cause is found and night sweats are exaggerated, it is important to remember that there are diseases that accelerate metabolism, such as hyperthyroidism, and should talk to your doctor about the possibilities.
2. Menopause or PMS
Men are not free of these symptoms, as about 20% of those over 50 may have andropause, also known as male menopause, which consists of a drop in testosterone levels, and night sweats and increase in temperature, irritability, insomnia and decreased libido. Those undergoing treatment for testosterone reduction, such as due to a prostate tumor, may also experience these symptoms.
Some infections, which may be acute or chronic, may cause preferential nocturnal sweating, and some of the most common include:
- Pulmonary abscess.
Generally, in addition to night sweats, these infections can develop with fever, chills, weight loss, weakness or ganglia throughout the body. In the presence of these symptoms, it is very important to have a medical evaluation as soon as possible, and treatment is oriented according to the type of microorganism involved, and may require antibiotics, antifungals or antiretrovirals.
4. Use of medication
Some medications may have the side effect of night sweats, and some examples are antipyretics, such as acetaminophen, some antihypertensives, and some antipsychotics.
If people using these medication experience sweating episodes at night, their use should not be discontinued but should be discussed with the doctor so that other common situations can be evaluated before considering withdrawing or changing the medication.
It is not uncommon for people with diabetes on insulin treatment to have episodes of hypoglycaemia at night or early in the morning, and not to feel because they are sleeping, and only sweat is noticed.
To avoid these types of health-threatening episodes, it is important to talk to your doctor about adjusting doses or types of medications, and following some tips such as:
- Checking blood glucose levels before bed, because if they are too low they should be corrected with a healthy snack;
- Preferring to practice physical activities during the day, and never skip dinner;
- Avoiding alcohol consumption at night.
Hypoglycemia causes sweating because it activates body mechanisms with the release of hormones to compensate for lack of glucose, resulting in sweating, paleness, dizziness, palpitations and nausea.
6. Sleep apnea
People with sleep apnea suffer from decreased blood oxygenation at night, which can lead to nervous system activation and may cause night sweats, and are more likely to develop high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias and cardiovascular disease.
This disorder can cause you to stop momentarily breathing or a very shallow breathing during sleep, resulting in snoring and you rest isn't very relaxing, which may cause symptoms of daytime drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, headache and irritability, for example.
7. Neurological Diseases
Some people may have an autonomic nervous system disorder, which is responsible for controlling functions that do not depend on our will, such as breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion or body temperature, for example.
This type of change leads to what is called dysautonomia, and can causes symptoms such as sweating, fainting, sudden drop in pressure, palpitations, blurred vision, dry mouth, and intolerance to activities such as standing or walking for a long time.
Alterations in this autonomic nervous system can arise from several causes, especially in neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, transverse myelitis, Alzheimer's, tumor or brain trauma, for example, as well as other genetic, cardiovascular or endocrine diseases.
Some cancers, such as lymphoma and leukemia, may frequently cause night sweats, weight loss, enlarged lymph nodes, risk of bleeding, and decreased immunity. Sweating can also occur in neuroendocrine tumors, such as pheochromocytoma or carcinoid tumor, which can stimulate the release of hormones that activate the neurological response, causing bouts of palpitation, sweating, flushing of the face and high blood pressure, for example.
Treatment should be guided by the oncologist, and in some cases with endocrinologist follow-up, with treatments that may include surgery and chemotherapy, for example, according to the type of tumor and severity of the condition.