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The body cools itself in the form of sweating. People tend to sweat throughout the day which is normal, but some experience increased sweating at night. Night sweats can be described as severe hot flashes during sleep that drenches your clothes and sheets which can cause discomfort. In case you’ve had an episode or two of night sweat then there is no need to worry. Probably environmental or lifestyle factors are causing the night sweats. But if sweating at night is becoming a regular thing, at this point you need to see your doctor. However, before you learn how to stop the night sweats, it’s important that you first know what’s causing them. Below are the common causes of night sweats.

Hormonal Imbalances/Disorder

When your body hormones change, they create symptoms such as hot flashes and excessive sweating. Also, hormone disorders can cause sweating at night as a side effect. For example, some pregnant women sweat at night due to hormone imbalances associated with pregnancy.

The common hormone disorders that can cause night sweats are carcinoid syndrome, hyperthyroidism, and pheochromocytoma.

Obesity

Being overweight or obese adds insulation to the body that makes it difficult for one to properly thermoregulate while asleep, causing night sweats. Additionally, obesity leads to obstructive sleep apnea which if not treated may be accompanied by night sweats.

Infections and Illness

Night sweats are a common symptom of infections in the human body. For example, tuberculosis infection is associated with night sweats. Bacterial infections such as endocarditis, osteomyelitis, and brucellosis can cause night sweats too. Also, night sweats are a symptom of HIV infection. Whenever we have occasional fever or cold, our body’s immune system works extra hard to help us recover back to full health. This includes raising our core body temperature which leads to night sweats. The night sweats, in this case, should go away once you recover from the illness. But if the night sweats persist, it may be due to a more serious health issue other than a mere cold or fever.

Medication

Taking certain medication can lead to night sweats. All antidepressant medications have been found to cause night sweats. It’s estimated that eight percent to 20 percent of individuals taking antidepressant drugs have night sweats. Over the counter, anti-fever medications such as aspirin and acetaminophen can lead to sweating. Psychiatric and chemotherapy drugs have also been linked to night sweats.

Untreated Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a form of breathing disorder that momentarily stops breathing during sleep causing choking, snoring sounds and gasping. It can be treated through CPAP or BIPAP therapy, which requires one to wear a mask connected to an air machine while they sleep. People find this treatment disturbing due to the discomfort of wearing the mask, thus not many people stick to their treatment. Unfortunately, failing to stick this treatment can result in night sweats.

Cancer

Night sweats are among the early signs and symptoms of some cancers. Lymphoma is the most common type of cancer associated with night sweats. However, if your cancer is undiagnosed, you might experience other symptoms as well such as unexplained weight loss and fevers.

Idiopathic Hyperhidrosis

This is a rare condition which affects only three percent of Americans. With idiopathic hyperhidrosis, the body experiences chronic sweating or episodes of heavy sweating at night without any identifiable medical cause.

Neurological disorder

Some neurological conditions such as autonomic neuropathy, posttraumatic syringomyelia, stroke, and autonomic dysreflexia can increase sweating and night sweats.

Conclusion

To successfully treat night sweats, you first need to know the underlying cause. All night sweats caused by environmental factors should go away by simply eliminating the triggers. For night sweats caused by other factors like infections and health issues, the doctor should be able to prescribe medication for them. Typically, everyone experiences the discomfort of night sweat at least once, almost with no lasting problem. But persistent night sweats are your body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong.

All images by Pixabay

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