Night sweats are a common grievance for people suffering with influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a debilitating condition that usually lasts around a week, and its symptomatic fever causes excessive sweating. Night sweats are unpleasant, but if you are already feeling unwell, they're likely to make you feel even worse. There are ways to prevent night sweats from worsening your flu symptoms, learn how sweats at night can exacerbate flu symptoms here.
Understanding the Flu
The flu is a viral infection of the respiratory tract that brings with it coughing, aching muscles, a runny nose, headaches, and high fever. It is this fever that causes night sweats. The body fights infections by increasing its production of white blood cells, which prompts the body's inner thermostat - the hypothalamus - to detect increased body temperature. When internal body temperature reaches over 99.5° F (37.5° C), this is known as a fever. The body reacts to cool down by expanding blood vessels close to the skin to cause flushing, and producing excessive amounts of sweat.
When suffering with flu symptoms, there are steps you can take to cope with night sweats by adjusting your environment. Keep reading for top tips to deal with feverish sweating.
Cool Down Slowly
It is easy to assume that plunging into a cold bath or pressing an ice pack to your skin will cool you down quickly. In reality, this will quickly decrease your skin temperature, which will prompt your body to react to heat up again by shivering, thus prolonging the symptom. Try to resist cooling down quickly, and look for ways to achieve a consistently cool temperature (e.g., by regularly sipping cold water) rather than confusing your hypothalamus with extreme environmental changes.
Keep a Cool Bedroom
Keeping a consistently cool sleeping environment is the most effective way of coping with night sweats. Avoid using central heating in your bedroom; use layers of breathable blankets instead that can be easily removed or added if you are too hot or cold during the night, and sleep with a window open to ventilate the room with cool, fresh air.
Wear Breathable Nightwear
Choice of nightwear makes all the difference to the clamminess of night sweats. Pajamas made from synthetic fabrics, such as silk, are restrictive and likely to stick to sweating skin, creating an unhygienic and unpleasant clammy sensation. By contrast, sleeping naked or wearing loose cotton pajamas allows air to access the skin more easily to keep it cool and ventilated.
Be Aware of Other Symptoms
It is a good idea to keep an eye on the other symptoms you are experiencing in order to monitor your recovery from the flu, but also to ensure that your sweating is not symptomatic of any other infections. Night sweating can be indicative of pneumonia, bronchitis, meningitis, and certain types of cancers. If you notice any alarming symptoms that don't fall in line with those of the flu, arrange to talk to your doctor. Moreover, if you notice your skin or nails turning blue, increased heartbeat, shortness of breath, or an absence of urine, seek medical attention immediately.
If flu symptoms worsen or do not disappear within two weeks, make sure to seek a medical attention as it might be a sign of post-influenza complications. The above mentioned techniques to alleviate night sweats while suffering from flu should help you get a good night sleep and give your body enough rest to fight off the infection. You might also be interested in some home remedies for night sweats, some of which can also give your immune system a great boost.
- Dugdale, D.C. (2012). Flu: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved January 30, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000080.htm
- National Health Service UK. (2012). Night sweats. Retrieved January 30, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/night-sweats/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Symptoms of the Flu. Retrieved January 30, 2014, from http://www.flu.gov/symptoms-treatment/symptoms/