What are the Common Causes of Night Sweats in Children?

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  • Written By: N. Swensson
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2018
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The term night sweats is most often used to describe sweating that leaves a person's clothing and sheets soaking wet. Night sweats in children can have a number of causes. Some are simple and temporary, while others may be more serious and require medical attention. Some more common causes of night sweats in children include sleeping in heavy pajamas or with too many blankets or running a fever. Other rarer but serious conditions that can cause night sweats include some types of cancer, HIV/AIDS, and thyroid or autoimmune disorders. Parents may want to call the doctor if there is no obvious cause for a child's night sweats and if the problem persists.

It is sometimes difficult for parents to judge whether a child is too warm at night, especially if the child has a fever. Younger children may not be able to express themselves and tell their parents if they are too hot. Infants are more likely to cry if they are too cold, and even young toddlers may not wake from sleep if they are too warm. Therefore it is not uncommon to check on a sleeping child and find him or her sweaty. The simple solution is removing blankets or lowering the temperature in the bedroom. Putting the child to bed in lighter pajamas can also help to stop night sweats.


Although it's probably less likely that night sweats in children are being caused by a serious condition, it can be a possibility. Night sweats may be an early indicator of certain types of cancer, including Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, malignant melanoma, or liver tumors. A doctor can help to evaluate a child if cancer is a potential concern.

Night sweats in children can also be caused by HIV/AIDS. Although rare, it is possible for a child to become infected with the disease from an improperly sterilized needle or other medical equipment. HIV often has few early warning signs, and night sweats are one of the more common ones in both adults and children.

Tuberculosis is another condition that may cause night sweats in children. Although children in the United States are vaccinated against this disease, infections are still possible and also occur in other parts of the world. Sometimes, the body can fight tuberculosis on its own, but night sweats can be a sign that the infection is progressing. In some cases, children with hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, or autoimmune disorders such as cerebral palsy may also experience night sweats.



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Post 1

Night sweats are a common occurrence in small children, since they spend more time in deep sleep and have a lot of sweat glands relative to body size. It is usually not a sign of something serious unless accompanied by other symptoms. Sleep apnea is another possible cause.

Children in the U.S. are not routinely vaccinated against TB.

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