Excessive Night Sweats – When to Relax and When to Worry

Although every person sweats during the day and night, some people find themselves sweating more than they think is normal during the night. The medical term for this is a little obvious: excessive night sweats. For most people the causes are either genetic or environmental, but for some the cause of their excessive night sweats may be serious.

You’re Not Alone

A study conducted in 2002 showed that up to 41% of people indicated to their primary care physician that they experienced excessive night sweats. That does not mean that 41% of these people had a serious medical condition. For most people, perspiring excessively at night can be traced back to environmental factors; the room is too hot, too many blankets, too heavy of sleepwear, even eating foods that are too spicy or drinking too much before bed. Doctors consider sleep hyperhidrosis to be truly severe night perspiration when hot flashes occur during the night that can soak both sleepwear and bed sheets, but are not connected to an excessively warm sleeping environment.

Menopause is often a cause of severe night sweating in women who are in menopause or are approaching the menopausal years and are in perimenopause. Idiopathic hyperhidrosis is a chronic condition where the body simply produces too much sweat. There is no cause that can be identified by medicine for this. Medication, including antidepressants, tamoxifen, hydralazine, nitroglycerine, Viagra, high doses of niacin and many others can also be one possible cause of severe sweating while sleeping.

When to Worry

Unfortunately, excessive sweating at night can also be the result of serious medical conditions. Infections, including tuberculosis, osteomyelitis (infection causes inflammation inside bones), endocarditis (hear valve inflammation), HIV, abscess and other forms of infection are all serious conditions that can cause severe perspiring at night. Excessive sweating at night may also be an early sign of some forms of cancer, specifically lymphoma. Typically weight loss that is unexplained and fever go hand in hand with sleep hyperhidrosis when discussing cancer. Hypoglycemia, hormone disorders and even neurological conditions such as stroke can also be the cause for severe sweating at night.

Consult Your Doctor

Excessive night sweats happen for many reasons, and the only way for a doctor to truly discover the cause of excessive night sweats is by a full medical examination. If there are symptoms other than severe sweating at night, it is wise to go to a doctor to discuss it with them.