Night sweats is another term for excessive perspiration, or sweating, at night. They’re an uncomfortable part of life for many people and may be associated with depression and difficulty sleeping.
While night sweats are a common symptom of menopause, they can also be caused by some medical conditions and certain medications.
In most cases, night sweats aren’t a serious symptom. Still, it’s important to know when to get checked if you have night sweats.
Night sweats can also be caused by other medical conditions, such as:
- infections, like tuberculosis or HIV
- cancer, such as leukemia or lymphoma
- anxiety disorders
- hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy can result in night sweats as well. They can also happen in men who have their testicles removed to treat prostate cancer.
Consuming too much caffeine or alcohol or using tobacco or drugs may also cause night sweats.
To treat night sweats, your doctor will take steps to identify and address their underlying cause. Your treatment plan will depend on your specific diagnosis. The following are common causes of night sweats with potential treatment options:
- Menopause. Lifestyle changes, like sleeping in cool rooms and avoiding alcohol, may help with hot flashes and night sweats. If these aren’t sufficient, hormone therapy may help reduce the number of hot flashes you experience and alleviate other symptoms. Your doctor may also prescribe other medications for hot flashes, such as paroxetine and gabapentin. Venlafaxine is also used off-label for night sweats.
- Underlying infection. Depending on the type of infection you have, antibiotics, antiviral drugs, or other medications may help treat it.
- Cancer. Your doctor may recommend a combination of chemotherapy drugs, surgery, or other treatments. Since these treatments can also cause night sweats, they may additionally be treated with hormone therapy or other medications.
- Anxiety. Your doctor may prescribe medications like anti-anxiety drugs or antidepressants. They may also recommend therapy.
- Hyperthyroidism. Medications, radioiodine therapy, or sometimes surgery are used to treat overactive thyroid.
- Medications. Your doctor may adjust your dosage or recommend an alternative drug.
- Alcohol or caffeine consumption, or drug use. Limiting or avoiding these substances may help reduce night sweats. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medications or recommend therapy to help you quit.
Your doctor may also advise you to adjust your sleeping habits. Removing blankets from your bed, wearing lighter pajamas, or opening a window in your bedroom may help prevent and alleviate night sweats. It may also help to use air conditioning or a fan, or find a cooler place to sleep.
Night sweats aren’t usually a cause for concern. In some cases, though, they may be a sign of an underlying medical condition that requires treatment.
Night sweats are common in menopause, which usually starts around age 50. However, if you experience night sweats and other menopause symptoms before you turn 40, it’s important to talk with your doctor. This may indicate a condition called primary ovarian insufficiency.
It’s also important to seek medical attention if you develop night sweats that happen frequently, disturb your sleep, or are accompanied by other symptoms. Night sweats that occur with a high fever, cough, or unexplained weight loss may be a sign of a serious medical condition.
Lifestyle changes may help prevent some causes of night sweats. To lower your risk of experiencing night sweats:
- limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine
- avoid using tobacco and drugs
- sleep in a cooler environment
- consider getting a cooling mattress
- try to maintain a moderate weight
- avoid eating spicy food if you have menopause, as it can worsen symptoms
If you suspect your night sweats are related to an infection or other illness, get prompt medical attention. Ask your doctor for more information about your specific condition, treatment options, and strategies to prevent night sweats.
Night sweats can be uncomfortable and disrupt your sleep. In most cases, they’re not a cause for serious concern. But sometimes, they may be caused by an underlying condition that requires treatment.
Your doctor can help diagnose the cause of your night sweats. They can also recommend strategies to prevent or treat night sweats. Depending on the underlying cause, they might recommend lifestyle changes, medications, or other treatments.