Sweating during the night can be a sign that you are simply feeling hot, or that you suffer from a hormonal disbalance, but if sweating during the night happen more often than it should, it may indicate a serious illness.
There are over 130 types of blood cancer, so the symptoms vary either from that or from the person that experiences the symptoms. A group of researchers found out that one of the symptoms for blood cancer is the excessive sweating during sleep.
Besides the sweating, this disease also is accompanied by a rapid weight loss, constant feel of fatigue, bone pain, infections, bleeding or bruises.
All these symptoms can be harmless, but if you experience any of these, check with your doctor as soon as you can!
People who suffer night sweats will typically wake in the night to find their bedclothes and bedding drenched, even if their bedroom temperature is cool. This abnormal sweating is annoying, but usually harmless.
However, night sweats can sometimes be a sign of an underlying medical condition, so you should see your GP if they keep happening and you’re worried.
In the meantime, you can get a better idea of the possible cause of your night sweats by reading on. However, you should not use this page to diagnose yourself with a condition – always leave that to your doctor.
The medical term for night sweats is nocturnal hyperhidrosis, which literally means “night-time excessive sweating”.
What is the likely cause?
The main conditions and medications that can cause night sweats are summarised below, although it should be noted that many of these conditions would cause other more specific symptoms as well:
- the menopause
- obstructive sleep apnoea – a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep
- medication – antidepressants and some other psychiatric drugs can sometimes cause night sweats as a side effect, as can aspirinand the steroid drug prednisolone
- alcohol abuse or drug misuse – especially the use of heroin
- hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), which is commonly associated with diabetes and taking insulin
- infections – tuberculosis is the most common infection associated with night sweats, but sweating may also be caused by other infections, including endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valves), osteomyelitis (a bone infection), abscesses and HIV/AIDS
- cancer – night sweats can be an early symptom of certain cancers, such as lymphoma or leukaemia; however, this is unusual and cancer would cause other symptoms too, such as unintentional weight loss
- hormone disorders such as pheochromocytoma and carcinoid syndrome (tumours that cause the body to overproduce hormones) and an overactive thyroid gland
- gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) – where stomach acid leaks out of the stomach and into the gullet, although night sweats are not a common symptom of this
There may not be an identifiable cause for your night sweats, and it may just be an annoyance that happens every now and then. When the cause is unknown, it is referred to as idiopathic hyperhidrosis.
People who generally sweat excessively, day and night, may have a condition called hyperhidrosis.
Hyperhidrosis doesn’t usually pose a serious threat to a person’s health, but it can be embarrassing and distressing.
Many people with the condition are too embarrassed to seek medical help or believe that nothing can be done to improve their symptoms. However, help is available – for example, lifestyle changes and a prescription antiperspirant may improve your sweating.