Night sweats happen while you’re sleeping. You can sweat so much that your sheets and clothing get wet. This uncomfortable experience can wake you up and make it hard to fall back asleep.
Menopause is a common cause of night sweats, but other medical conditions can also cause these uncomfortable episodes. Some medical conditions that cause night sweats may be serious, such as cancers. Other times, night sweats can be caused by less serious conditions including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). While night sweats aren’t the most prominent or common symptom of GERD, they may be a sign that your condition isn’t under control.
If you’re experiencing night sweats, make an appointment with your doctor. They can help determine if they’re caused by GERD or another condition.
GERD is a digestive condition that involves prolonged acid reflux. This occurs when you regurgitate acids from your stomach into your esophagus. This can cause an uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest and abdomen, known as heartburn. Experiencing an occasional bout of heartburn is no cause for concern. But if you experience heartburn at least twice a week for several weeks in a row, you may have GERD.
GERD can also cause:
- bad breath
- metallic taste in your mouth
- chest pain
- sore throat
- night sweats
GERD is more serious than occasional acid reflux. Over time, it can damage your esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach, and lead to other health problems. For example, it can raise your risk of:
- swallowing difficulties
- esophagitis, an irritation of your esophagus
- Barrett’s esophagus, a condition in which tissue in your esophagus is replaced by tissue similar to that of your intestinal lining
- esophageal cancer
- breathing difficulties
If you suspect you have GERD, make an appointment with your doctor. It’s important to take steps to minimize your symptoms and lower your risk of complications.
Sweating is one of your body’s natural responses to heat. It helps you cool yourself off when you’re in a hot environment or exercising. You can also sweat in response to other stressors, such as illness.
If you have GERD, you may experience night sweats along with more classic symptoms of the disease. For example, you might wake up in the middle of the night with both heartburn and excessive sweating. If this happens on a regular basis, make an appointment with your doctor. You may have GERD that isn’t well controlled.
If you’re waking up with heartburn and excessive sweating or experiencing other symptoms of GERD, your doctor may prescribe medications to help control your symptoms. For example, they may encourage you to take antacids or histamine H2 blockers. Also simply called H2 blockers, this class of medications works by decreasing your stomach acid production. They may help reduce your night sweats, as well as other symptoms of GERD.
Examples of H2 blockers include:
- famotidine (Pepcid AC)
- cimetidine (Tagamet HB)
- nizatidine (Axid AR)
H2 blockers work differently than antacids, including those based on aluminum/magnesium formulas (Mylanta) and calcium carbonate formulas (Tums). H2 blockers block the action of histamines in certain stomach cells, which slows your body’s production of stomach acid. In contrast, antacids neutralize stomach acid once it’s been produced.
It’s important to keep in mind that H2 blockers and proton-pump inhibitors only provide short-term relief. Your doctor may advise you to take them in the evening to help prevent night sweats and other symptoms of GERD.
While GERD can be the cause of night sweats, not all patients with GERD have them. And even if you have GERD, your night sweats might be caused by something else.
Other possible causes of night sweats include:
- hormone therapy
- overactive thyroid gland, known as hyperthyroidism
- adrenal gland problems
- antidepressant medications
- alcohol use
- sleep apnea
- bone infections
If you’re experiencing night sweats, make an appointment with your doctor. They may use a variety of examinations and tests to help determine the cause.
Night sweats can be troublesome, especially if they interrupt your sleep on a regular basis. On top of waking you up, the discomfort can make it difficult to fall back asleep. The key to preventing future night sweats is to treat the underlying cause.
If your doctor determines that your nighttime sweating is caused by GERD, they will likely prescribe medications or other treatment. If you don’t treat your GERD appropriately, your night sweats and other symptoms will likely continue. It’s important to work with your doctor to control your GERD symptoms and lower your risk of further health problems.