May 30, 2017

Night Sweats

Night sweats facts

  • Night sweats are a common symptom that can be related to many different causes.
  • The menopausal transition in women is a common cause of night sweats.
  • Less common causes of night sweats include infections and cancers.
  • Hot flashes, night sweats, and other symptoms of approaching menopause can precede menopause by many years.
  • Treatment of night sweats is directed at the underlying cause.
  • Certain medications, hormone disorders, neurologic problems, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are other possible causes of night sweats.

What are night sweats?

Doctors in primary care fields of medicine often hear their patients complain of night sweats as they are common. Night sweats refer to any excess sweating occurring during the night. However, if your bedroom is unusually hot or you are using too many bedclothes, you may begin to sweat during sleep, which is normal. In order to distinguish night sweats that arise from medical causes from those that occur because one's surroundings are too warm, doctors generally refer to true night sweats as severe hot flashes occurring at night that can drench sleepwear and sheets, which are not related to an overheated environment.

In one study of 2267 patients visiting a primary care physician, 41% reported experiencing night sweats during the previous month, so the perception of excessive sweating at night is fairly common. It is important to note that flushing (a warmth and redness of the face or trunk) also may be hard to distinguish from true night sweats.

Reviewed on 6/23/2016