Read below about night sweats, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your night sweats from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Night Sweats Symptoms

Night sweats refers to excessive perspiration at night. People with night sweats often wake up with their clothes and bedding soaked with sweat. It is important to be able to differentiate night sweats related to underlying medical conditions versus night sweats related to the environment.

True nights sweats occur despite removing heavy bedding or blankets or sleeping with a fan or air conditioning.

Night sweats can be associated with other symptoms such as:

Because night sweats often signal underlying medical conditions, it is important to follow up with your physician promptly in order to receive appropriate care and treatment. Seek medical attention especially if your night sweats occur frequently, disturb your sleep, or are associated with other symptoms such as weight loss or fever.

Night Sweats Causes Overview

Systemic causes:

  • Infectious: Various infectious diseases can cause night sweats. Bacterial infections that result in night sweats include tuberculosis (a contagious disease that affects the lungs), endocarditis (an infection of the lining of the heart), and brucellosis (an infection that spreads from animals to people via foods and/or through the air). HIV and resultant AIDS is a viral infection that can cause night sweats.
  • Cancerous: Cancer is always of concern if you are experiencing night sweats. In addition to night sweats, you may also experience symptoms of weight loss and fever. Cancers that involve the lymph nodes and lymphatic system (lymphoma) and cancers that affect the blood and marrow (leukemia) are often principal causes of night sweats.

Aging-related causes:

  • Night sweats are often related to menopause. Menopause refers to the natural cessation of a woman's menstrual cycle for at least 12 consecutive months. Night sweats are a common symptom of menopause and can also include symptoms such as hot flashes, irregular periods, thinning hair and dry skin, weight gain, and mood changes.

Medications that cause night sweats:

  • Medications for depression
  • Drugs for treating diabetes
  • Hormone therapy for conditions such as cancer

Environmental causes:

  • Overconsumption of caffeine

Alcohol intake: Alcohol consumption is an especially potent contributor to night sweats. Because alcohol affects the nervous and circulatory system, drinking can increase your heart rate and dilate the blood vessels. These phenomena trigger perspiration. However, if you are a regular drinker and have not consumed alcohol recently, you may experience night sweats as a sign of withdrawal.

  • Use of tobacco or illegal drugs

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Night Sweats

Updated on Aug. 29, 2018

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced night sweats. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Overactive Thyroid

    The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of your endocrine glands, which make hormones. Thyroid glands control how fast one burns calories and how fast the heart beats. If the thyroid is too active, it makes more thyroid hormones than the body needs. This is called hyperthyroidism.

    Great prognosis with high remission rates

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, anxiety, depressed mood, irritability, trouble sleeping
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Obstructive Sleep Apnea

    Sleep apnea is a disorder in which the upper airway is obstructed during sleep, which causes poor sleep quality and frequent awakening.

    Sleep apnea is a lifelong condition but symptoms can be well managed with treatment.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, irritability, daytime sleepiness, trouble sleeping, sore throat
    Symptoms that always occur with obstructive sleep apnea:
    snoring or apneas
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Symptoms of Menopause

    Menopause is the point in life where your period stops. This happens when the ovaries stop making hormones that keep your cycle going. The transition into menopause is called peri-menopause and can include symptoms like hot flashes, shortening of menstrual cycle and mood fluctuations.

    Hot flashes typically peak approximately 1 year after the final period and last 4-10 years. Most women stop having hot flashes 4 years after they start, but 10% of women may have hot flashes up to 12 years after their last period.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, delay in or irregular periods, vaginal discharge, anxiety, trouble sleeping
    Symptoms that always occur with symptoms of menopause:
    delay in or irregular periods
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  4. 4.Premature Ovarian Failure

    "Premature ovarian failure" (POF), also called "primary ovarian insufficiency" and "early menopause" happens when the ovaries stop working well too early in life. Naturally menopause occurs between the ages 45 and 55. Symptoms of menopause are changes in menstrual period, missing periods, hot flashes, mood changes and vaginal dryness.

    Indefinite

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, anxiety, irritability, vaginal itch or burning, muscle aches
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (Cml)

    Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) is a cancer of the white blood cells, which are cells that help fight disease. The disease has broad symptoms such as fever, fatigue, weakness, and pain in the left upper part of the abdomen.

    The prognosis is improved for those receiving medication such as imatinib, and 9 out of 10 people survive up to 5 years, according to a recent study. Consult with an oncologist.

    Rarity:
    Ultra rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, stomach bloating, shortness of breath, unintentional weight loss, feeling of fullness early in a meal
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

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  6. 6.Sarcoidosis

    Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that most often affects the lungs and skin, but can als affect the joints.

    This condition has a broad range of severity. It often goes away on its own over time but some cases can cause permanent damage.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, joint pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Septic Arthritis

    Septic arthritis is an intensely painful joint infection.

    12-14 days with treatment

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, spontaneous shoulder pain, chills, knee pain, joint pain
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  8. 8.Bacterial Pneumonia

    Bacterial pneumonia is the infection of the lungs with bacteria (as opposed to a fungus or a virus).

    1-3 weeks

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, cough, headache, loss of appetite, shortness of breath
    Symptoms that always occur with bacterial pneumonia:
    cough
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  9. 9.Tuberculosis

    Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which most commonly affects the lungs, although it can also affect other organs in the body. The bacteria can lie dormant in the body for a long time (even years), until they start causing symptoms such as cough, fever, loss of appetite, and night sweats.

    >6 months treatment with antibiotics.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, rib pain, dry cough
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  10. 10.Acute Thyroiditis

    Acute thyroiditis is a rare inflammation of the thyroid gland caused by an infection, radiation, medication, or trauma.

    2 weeks - 2 months with treatment

    Rarity:
    Ultra rare
    Top Symptoms:
    sore throat, fever, being severely ill, hoarse voice, pain in the front of the neck
    Symptoms that always occur with acute thyroiditis:
    pain in the front of the neck
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room

Night Sweats Treatments and Relief

Treating night sweats is about treating and addressing the underlying cause.

Your physician will treat you depending on your specific diagnosis and may suggest the following:

  • Age-related: If your night sweats are caused by menopause, your doctor may suggest hormone therapy to reduce your night sweats and related symptoms such as hot flashes.
  • Antibiotics/antivirals: Depending on the type of infection that is contributing to your night sweats, your physician will prescribe the proper antibiotics or antiviral medications in order to relieve your symptoms and treat the disease.
  • Cancer treatment: Your doctor will discuss treatment options such as chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.
  • Medication changes: If your night sweat symptoms are related to your current medication regimen, your physician may make changes to your regimen or provide alternatives.

Sometimes night sweats can be prevented before they get worse. You may be able to reduce or relieve night sweats by identifying any triggers in your life that may be the cause and avoiding them.

See the list below for simple home remedies and lifestyle changes that may help relieve your symptoms.

  • Limit consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
  • Avoid the use of tobacco and illegal drugs.
  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable but cooler temperature during the day and make sure it is nice and cool at night.
  • Avoid eating spicy foods before bedtime.

FAQs About Night Sweats

Here are some frequently asked questions about night sweats.

Why do I have night sweats after drinking alcohol?

When you drink large amounts of alcohol, it may cause your blood vessels — especially the blood vessels near your skin — to dilate. This causes reddening or the flushing effect that we see when individuals drink large amounts of alcohol or when individuals are intolerant of alcohol. The dilation of blood vessels near the skin can cause profuse sweating.

Can stress and anxiety cause night sweats?

Yes, stress and anxiety can cause sweating at any time if it is severe enough. It usually does not cause sweating, however, while an individual is sleeping. A night terror or nightmare can cause increased stress hormones and sweating, but the most common cause of night sweats is a warm sleep environment, menopause, infection or blood disorder illness.

How long do menopause-related night sweats last?

Menopause-related night sweats may last for years, though they may decrease in frequency over that time. There is significant research on the presence of hot flashes, which persist up to four years after menopause.

Why do I suddenly have night sweats?

Sudden night sweats are most often a sign of a change in bedding or atmosphere at night. it can be unsettling to wake up with night sweats. One should check if a bed partner is experiencing the same symptoms. If so, it is likely due to some element of the local environment. It may still be due to the local environment even if a bed partner is not experiencing the same symptoms if you sleep in a hotter environment (e.g. no fan, heavier bed clothes/blanket). However, persistent night sweats with no explanation can be a sign of serious physical disease and should be evaluated if accompanied by back pain, change in vision or mental status, or weight loss.

Why do my night sweats come and go?

Night sweats most often come and go with bed habits. For example, the heat of the room or the amount of bedding used may influence night sweats. Latent, low-grade infections may also cause night sweats. Night sweats may not signify anything serious, and most often are due to environmental changes and not bodily changes. They are usually only worrisome if they persist for a prolonged period of time or accompained by other new symptoms.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Night Sweats

  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Do you have a cough?
  • Q.Have you had any changes in your weight?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our night sweats symptom checker to find out more.

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Night Sweats Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced night sweats have also experienced:

    • 8% Fatigue
    • 4% Muscle Aches
    • 4% Cough
  • People who have experienced night sweats were most often matched with:

    • 42% Overactive Thyroid
    • 42% Obstructive Sleep Apnea
    • 14% Symptoms of Menopause
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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