What causes night sweats? 24 possible conditions

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What Are Night Sweats?

Excessive perspiration at night, or night sweats, is an uncomfortable part of life for many people. Night sweats can soak a pillow or require that a sleeper change nightclothes or bedding. 

What Causes Night Sweats?

Many women experience night sweats, also known as hot flashes, during menopause. As a woman's estrogen level decreases, night sweats may increase.

Night sweats are usually attributed to treatable conditions, such as infections, sleep apnea, acid reflux, and hypoglycemia. They can also be a symptom of serious illnesses such as tuberculosis, lymphoma, other cancers, or HIV and AIDS.

Night sweats can be a side effect of certain medications. These include antidepressants, hormone treatments, and hypoglycemic agents (Mayo Clinic, 2013). Abusing substances such as alcohol or illegal drugs can also cause night sweats.  

When to Seek Medical Help

Night sweats are usually not a cause for concern. Seek medical advice if night sweats occur repeatedly and disturb sleep, or if they are accompanied by other symptoms. When night sweats are accompanied by unexplained weight loss and a high fever, that may indicate be a medical emergency.

For people with lymphoma, night sweats can be a sign that the disease is progressing. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor.

Persistent night sweats may be an indicator of the onset of HIV or a signal that HIV has progressed to AIDS.

How Are Night Sweats Treated?

Medical treatments for night sweats will address the underlying condition. Night sweats are sometimes a treatable side effect of an underlying condition, such as menopause or anxiety. In each instance, the treatment varies.

In menopausal women, hormone therapy may reduce the occurrence of hot flashes. Although anti-depressants can actually cause night sweats, in menopausal women they can be used as a treatment for hot flashes. Other medications include gabapentin and clonidine.

Home Care

For people experiencing night sweats, removing blankets (or clothing) or opening a window may help. When there is hot weather, it can help to use air conditioning or find a cooler place to sleep.

How Are Night Sweats Prevented?

Night sweats that are not caused by illness can often be prevented. Caffeine and alcohol can cause night sweats and should be limited if night sweats are an issue. Smoking cigarettes can also trigger night sweats.

Keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature.  Avoid crowded rooms or getting too close to a sleeping partner. Don't exercise, eat spicy foods, or consume warm drinks before bedtime.

Relax before going to bed. Relaxing activities, like yoga or some other favorite hobby, can help with night sweats.

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See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.

1

Pulmonary Tuberculosis

Pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) is bacteria that that attack your lungs. It is a potentially deadly disease, but it is curable if you get medical help right away and follow your doctor's instructions. The bacterium (germ...

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2

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a highly infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs. A severe and long-lasting cough, fever, and night sweats could indicate an active TB infection.

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3

Acute Stress Disorder

In the weeks after a traumatic event, you may develop an anxiety disorder called acute stress disorder (ASD). ASD typically occurs within one month of a traumatic event. It lasts at least two days and up to one month...

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4

Leukemia

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood cells. Excessive sweating at night, constant fatigue, weight loss, bone pain, and easy bleeding or bruising are all signs of this disease.

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5

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a lymphatic system cancer. Symptoms may include swollen lymph nodes, chest pain, fatigue, and fever.

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6

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Congestive heart failure is a chronic condition that affects the four chambers of the heart. Early symptoms include fatigue and weight gain. Irregular heart beat and wheezing indicate a worsening.

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7

Hodgkin's Disease

Hodgkin's disease is a type of lymphoma, a blood cancer that starts in the lymphatic system. It can occur at any age, but is most prevalent between the ages of 15 and 40 and after the age of 55.

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8

Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is the most common cancer in childhood, although it can also occur in adults. ALL is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Cancer occurs when abnormal cells in a part of the body begi...

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9

Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer that occurs in the blood and the marrow of the bones. Marrow is sponge-like material inside the bones that produces blood cells. AML specifically affects the white blood cells o...

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10

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)

Leukemia is a type of cancer that starts in the blood or blood-forming tissues. There are many different types of leukemia, and treatment is different for each one. Chronic leukemias are slower growing than acut...

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11

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the blood and blood-forming tissues. There are many types of leukemia, each affecting different kinds of blood cells. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL, is a cancer of th...

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12

Empyema

Empyema is a collection of pus (dead cells and infected fluid) inside a body cavity. Usually, this term refers to pus inside your pleural cavity, or "pleural space." The pleural cavity is the thin space between th...

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13

Hairy Cell Leukemia

Hairy cell leukemia (HCL) is a rare type of blood and bone marrow cancer that affects the B-lymphocytes (a type of white blood cells that make antibodies that fight infections). If you have HCL, your body produces ...

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14

Infective Endocarditis

Infective endocarditis is an infection in the heart valves or endocardium. The endocardium is the lining of the heart. This condition is usually caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream and infecting the heart...

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15

Infectious Mononucleosis

Infectious mononucleosis, often called "mono," is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It typically occurs in teenagers, but you can get it at any age. The virus is spread through saliva, which is why some peopl...

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16

Pulmonary Actinomycosis

Pulmonary actinomycosis is a rare bacterial lung infection. It is also known as thoracic actinomycosis. It is not contagious.This condition mainly affects people between 30 and 60 years old. It occurs more often in me...

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17

Sarcoidosis

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease where granulomas (clumps of immune cells, usually macrophages) form in various organs. This causes organ inflammation. Doctors believe that sarcoidosis may be caused by an abnorma...

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18

Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)

Coccidioidomycosis-also called valley fever-is a fungal infection that starts in the lungs, and in rare cases spreads to the rest of the body. According to the California Department of Health, approximately 150,00...

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19

Endocarditis

Endocarditis is inflammation of the heart's inner lining, called the endocardium. This condition is also called infective endocarditis . Endocarditis is uncommon in people with healthy hearts. In a study published i...

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20

Colitis

Colitis is inflammation of the colon. Other parts of your intestines, which includes, the colon, may also be affected. If you have colitis, you will feel discomfort and pain in your abdomen. You symptoms maybe be mil...

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This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.
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