Waking up in the night drenched in sweat and entangled in damp, uncomfortable sheets can ruin the effects of a good night’s sleep. If you find yourself suffering from troublesome night sweats, you may be wondering why your body has gone haywire. Some people naturally produce more sweat than others. In this case, enjoying a cool, restful night’s sleep may require nothing more than setting the bedroom thermostat lower or dressing in cooler nightclothes. For others, night sweats may be a sign of an underlying disorder. The following are 12 disorders that may be revealed by night sweats.
12. Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders often produce symptoms of intense fear and panic. Symptoms of anxiety may include a feeling of impending doom, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and sweating. The same symptoms that plague those suffering from anxiety disorders by day can also affect them at night. If you are struggling with anxiety during the daytime, night sweats can be an additional symptom of this disorder. Other signs of anxiety include depression, excessive worry that interferes with daily activities, depression, and suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Seek medical attention if you notice any of these symptoms.
11. Autoimmune Disorders
Disorders in which a person’s immune system begins attacking the healthy tissues of the person’s own body are called autoimmune disorders. Night sweats are one possible symptom of autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, and celiac disease. While there are many types of autoimmune disorders, many of them share symptoms of fatigue, muscle aches, fever, and skin rashes. In some cases, symptoms of disease come and go. In other cases, symptoms of an autoimmune disorder remain constant and become progressively worse over time.
10. Bacterial Infection
Certain infections may cause you to wake up in a sweat during the nighttime. Tuberculosis (TB) is one such infection. Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterial infection that is spread through the air. The TB bacteria grow in the lungs and cause symptoms such as chest pain, an aggravating cough lasting more than three weeks, and the coughing up of blood and mucus. Other symptoms may include weight loss, fever, chills, and night sweats. Bacterial endocarditis is a bacterial infection that affects the heart valves or the lining of the heart. In addition to night sweats, symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, and swollen ankles.
9. Certain Cancers
The American Cancer Society lists “drenching night sweats” as one symptom of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer that begins in the white blood cells of the immune system. Other symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma include enlarged lymph nodes, weight loss, chest pain, and frequent infections. Acute lymphocytic leukemia is a cancer of the blood and may also result in night sweats. Other symptoms include weakness, recurring infections, severe bleeding, and bruises on the skin. Check with your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
8. Diabetes Mellitus
Diabetes is another autoimmune disorder that may result in night sweats. Other signs and symptoms of either type 1 or type 2 diabetes are increased thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, and frequent infections. As the body is unable to utilize glucose, it may turn to breaking down muscle and fat to use as energy. This breakdown of muscle and fat can result in excess ketones in the urine. Depending on the type of diabetes, blood sugar levels may respond to dietary and lifestyle changes. In other cases, insulin treatment may be required.Related: 7 Most Common Symptoms of Diabetes
7. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, causing irritation and pain. Symptoms of GERD include heartburn, chest pain, painful swallowing, and feeling as if a lump is in the throat. Reflux can worsen at night when lying down, causing coughing, laryngitis, asthma, and difficulty sleeping. Additionally, studies have shown that night sweating can be a sign of GERD. In this case, treatment with anti-reflux medications resulted in a decreased incidence of nighttime sweating.Related: Here’s The Difference Between Acid Reflux, Heartburn, and GERD
6. Prescription or Over-the-Counter Medications
According to the National Institutes of Health, certain antidepressants are linked with night sweats. Tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may both result in excessive nighttime sweating. Anti-diabetic medications are another class of medications that may cause night sweats. Cancer drugs that block certain types of hormones may also have this bothersome side effect. Drugs used to decrease fever, such as aspirin or acetaminophen, may cause nighttime sweating as well.
Hot flashes and night sweats are well-known symptoms of menopause. As a woman experiences changes in her levels of hormones, she may also notice changes in her body’s temperature regulation. This can result in hot flashes, the feelings of flushing and heat that spread through the body. Lifestyle changes that may help prevent night sweats include avoidance of alcohol, spicy foods, and caffeine. Wearing cool clothing, maintaining a healthy weight, and indulging in a cool shower before bedtime may also help ease nighttime sweating.
As if menopause weren’t difficult enough, studies show that obesity can increase menopause symptoms and worsen night sweats. While night sweats can affect any individual of any size, a higher body mass index (BMI) may lead to more frequent hot flashes and night sweats. Maintaining a cooler bedroom temperature at night and running a ceiling fan or keeping a fan on your nightstand can help decrease nighttime sweating.
3. Sleep Disorders
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is a disorder in which a person repeatedly stops and then restarts breathing while sleeping. This apnea is caused when the muscles of the throat relax and block the airway. Your bed partner may notice symptoms such as snoring and episodes when your breathing stops. Other symptoms are daytime fatigue, a dry mouth and throat upon awakening, irritability, and night sweats. Risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome include obesity, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, high blood pressure, and chronic nasal congestion.Related: 6 Diseases Caused by a Lack of Sleep
The International Hyperhidrosis Society lists stroke as one neurological disorder that can cause night sweats. Hyperhidrosis refers to excessive sweating, which can either be caused by primary hyperhidrosis or secondary hyperhidrosis. Primary hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating not caused by an underlying medical condition. Secondary hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating that is caused by another medical condition. Stroke is a neurological condition that may cause hyperhidrosis and excessive nighttime sweating. Other neurological conditions that can cause night sweats are autonomic dysreflexia and autonomic neuropathy.
1. Thyroid Disease
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce the necessary levels of thyroid hormones needed for normal body functions. Problems with body temperature regulation can be one effect of low thyroid hormone levels. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a form of hypothyroidism in which the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism may also occur when medications interfere with thyroid function. Other causes of hypothyroidism are the removal of the thyroid, inappropriate levels of dietary iodine, and pituitary disorders.Related: 6 Thyroid Cancer Signs and Symptoms