What are the Symptoms of Night Sweats?

Autumn Rivers

The primary symptom of night sweats is sweating that occurs during sleep, though it does not have to be at night. In order to qualify as this condition, the excessive sweating cannot be caused by a hot environment or excess movement, such as exercise. One of the main symptoms of night sweats is when the clothes and bed sheets are soaked with perspiration, which means that waking up slightly perspired is not usually a symptom of this condition. Though these common symptoms of night sweats occur with nearly every case of the disorder, other symptoms may be present as well, depending on the true cause of the excessive sweating.

Pregnancy may occasionally cause night sweats.
Pregnancy may occasionally cause night sweats.

Someone who wakes up soaked with sweat after sleeping in an overly hot room or after a strenuous workout is not usually suffering from the condition referred to as night sweats. Additionally, it is often quite normal to lightly sweat during sleep at night, so this is not usually labeled a condition. The main symptoms of night sweats include waking up to sheets or blankets saturated in perspiration despite a cool room, as well as a flushed feeling on the skin. One can feel flushed, however, without experiencing night sweats at all.

Dehydration, which can be caused by excessive drinking, can lead to headaches and night sweats.
Dehydration, which can be caused by excessive drinking, can lead to headaches and night sweats.

Though there are few symptoms of night sweats, there are some additional issues that may come along with this condition when paired with other medical problems. For example, cancers like lymphoma often cause this condition, but it typically occurs along with a fever and sudden weight loss. In fact, the occurrence of both a fever and night sweats usually shows up in many infections, such as endocarditis, tuberculosis, HIV, and various types of abscesses. Several medications, including antidepressants, aspirin, and acetaminophen, can cause night sweats with no other symptoms. Additionally, night sweats that occur with no additional symptoms are often considered harmless by medical professionals.

The occurrence of both fever and night sweats may be a sign of infection.
The occurrence of both fever and night sweats may be a sign of infection.

Symptoms of night sweats in women often signify menopause, and are caused by an imbalance of hormones. The condition occurs when part of the brain becomes overwhelmed and assumes that the body needs to begin giving off heat. It then signals the heart to beat faster, blood vessels to expand, and the sweat glands to start producing perspiration. This reaction is considered normal in women nearing menopausal age, though women can also experience it during pregnancy. If any unusual symptoms occur along with the night sweats, though, it may be time to seek medical advice to find out if there is a harmful underlying cause.

A diagram of the human skin, including sweat glands.
A diagram of the human skin, including sweat glands.
Night sweats are not caused by a hot environment.
Night sweats are not caused by a hot environment.

Discussion Comments

Rotergirl

@Pippinwhite -- My mom had night sweats when she hit menopause. She went on estrogen therapy for the same reason. I don't care what the risks are. I'm not spending the next five years of my life absolutely miserable because I don't want to take hormones! I'll take them!

I've had night sweats a couple of times, but it was always when I either had a stomach bug or the flu. When I had the flu when I was 17, night sweats were every night for a week. I could count on being asleep about three hours, and then wake up sweating like nobody's business. The doctor said it was because the flu virus caused my body to have trouble regulating my temperature.

Pippinwhite

My sister is going through menopause and has hot flashes and night sweats. She said she has come awake in the night, absolutely soaked with sweat. She said she had to shower off a couple of times and even change the sheets!

My doctor has also had menopausal night sweats, and said she went on estrogen replacement after about a week of dealing with them. She said whatever risk was worth it not to have to wake up in the night sweating like a pig. She was really miserable, she said, until the hormones kicked in. That's why a I see a female doctor. They know what women deal with, first hand.

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: