The term night sweats refers to the experience of excessive nocturnal sweating, often causing the sufferer to wake during the night drenched in sweat. Although night sweats are typically associated with menopause, and are one of the most common symptoms women experience during this time, they can also affect children and men.
Despite multiple studies, it is still hard to determine the exact cause of night sweats. However, doctors do believe that they are related to an imbalance of hormones. This is why women going through menopause are most likely to encounter the experience and its accompanying symptoms, which include sweats, flushing of the face and chest, an increased heart rate, excessive sweating, chills, and fatigue.Read on to find out more about the possible causes of your night sweats.
Principal Cause of Night Sweats
Night sweats are most commonly known for plaguing women during the menopausal transition, as are hot flashes and excessive sweating. The main cause of these menopause symptoms is probably the same: a hormonal imbalance.
Due to the fluctuation in hormones (i,e., especially estrogen levels), the normal functioning of the brain area that acts as the body thermostat, the hypothalamus, is mislead into believing that the body is too hot. During night sweat episodes, your glands begin to work and bring unusual responses to your body such as excessive sweating, intense heat, and irregular heartbeat.
If you are experiencing night sweats, but not going through menopause, you should seek advice from your doctor, as night sweats can be also be sign of a health problem.
Other Causes of Night Sweats
Some medications and medical conditions can cause night sweats. These include:
While tuberculosis is one of the most common infections that cause night sweats, some bacterial infections have been known to do the same.
Antidepressants are known for contributing to night sweats. Nearly 22% of antidepressant users experience them.
Strokes, autonomic dysreflexia, autonomic neuropathy, and post-traumatic syringomyelia can trigger profuse sweating.
Idiopathic hyperhidrosis is a rare condition that causes someone to more sweat than what is necessary.
Having low blood sugar levels can contribute to excessive sweating.
Because of chemotherapy, many cancer patients also experience fevers, weight loss, and night sweats.
More about Night Sweats
Night sweats are the nocturnal variation of hot flashes. Depending on their severity and intensity, they can be very disruptive to your life. However by understanding the causes of your night sweats, you and your doctor can determine the best treatment for them. Click on the following link for more information about night sweats treatments.
- The National Institute of Health. (n.d)."Signs of the Menopausal Transition" .Retrieved from www.nih.gov
- Boston Women's Health Collective. "Hot Flashes, Night Sweats and Sleep Disturbances". Our Bodies, Ourselves, 2006.
- Von Muhlen, DG, et al. "A community-based study of menopause symptoms and estrogen replacement in older women". Maturitas. Sept 1995; 22(2):71-8.