What Causes Night Sweats?

Conditions list medically reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA

“Night sweats” is another term for excessive perspiration at night. They’re an uncomfortable part of life for many people. Night sweats are a common symptom of menopause. They can also be caused by some medical conditions and certain medications. Read More

“Night sweats” is another term for excessive perspiration at night. They’re an uncomfortable part of life for many people. Night sweats are a common symptom of menopause. They can also be caused by some medical conditions and certain medications.

What causes night sweats?

Many women experience hot flashes and night sweats during menopause.

Night sweats can also be caused by other medical conditions, such as:

  • infections, such as tuberculosis or HIV
  • cancer, such as leukemia or lymphoma
  • congestive heart failure

In some cases, you may experience night sweats as a side effect of medication that you’re taking. They can be caused by antidepressants, hormone treatments, and diabetes medications. Consuming too much caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs can also cause night sweats.

When should you seek help?

Night sweats aren’t usually a cause for concern. But in some cases, they may be a sign of an underlying medical condition that requires treatment.

Seek medical attention if you develop night sweats that occur frequently, disturb your sleep, or are accompanied by other symptoms. Night sweats accompanied by a high fever, cough, or unexplained weight loss, may be a sign of a serious medical condition.

If you’ve been diagnosed with lymphoma or HIV, night sweats may be a sign that your disease is progressing. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor.

How are night sweats treated?

To treat night sweats, your doctor will take steps to address their underlying cause. Your recommended treatment plan will depend on your specific diagnosis.

If you experience night sweats as a result of menopause, your doctor may recommend hormone therapy. This treatment may help reduce the number of hot flashes you experience and alleviate other symptoms. Your doctor may also prescribe other medications, such as gabapentin, clonidine, or venlafaxine.

If an underlying infection is the cause of your night sweats, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, antiviral drugs, or other medications to help treat it.

If your night sweats are caused by cancer, your doctor may recommend a combination of chemotherapy drugs, surgery, or other treatments.

If your night sweats are linked to medications that you’re taking, your doctor may adjust your dosage or recommend an alternative drug.

If alcohol consumption, caffeine consumption, or illegal drug use, is at the root of your night sweats, your doctor may advise you to limit or avoid these substances. In some cases, they 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 find a cooler place to sleep.

How are night sweats prevented?

Some causes of night sweats can be prevented. To lower your risk of experiencing night sweats:

  • limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine
  • avoid using tobacco and illegal drugs
  • keep your bedroom at a comfortable and cooler temperature than during the day
  • don’t exercise, eat spicy foods, or consume warm drinks too close to bedtime
  • get prompt medical attention, if you suspect you have an infection or other illness

Ask your doctor for more information about your specific condition, treatment options, and strategies to prevent night sweats.

Medically reviewed by Judith Marcin, MD on October 31, 2016Written by David Heitz


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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.