What causes night sweats in men, women, and children?
Perimenopause and Menopause
The hot flashes that accompany the menopausal transition can occur at night and cause sweating. This is a very common cause of night sweats in perimenopausal women. It is important to remember that hot flashes and other symptoms of perimenopause can precede the actual menopause (the cessation of menstrual periods) by several years.
Sweating or flushing can be seen with several hormone disorders, including pheochromocytoma (a type of adrenal gland tumor that overproduces hormones known as catecholamines), carcinoid syndrome (overproduction of certain hormones by tumors of the lung or gastrointestinal system), and hyperthyroidism (excessive levels of thyroid hormones).
Idiopathic hyperhidrosis is a condition in which the body chronically produces too much sweat without any identifiable medical cause.
Night sweats are an early symptom of some cancers. The most common type of cancer associated with night sweats is lymphoma. However, people who have undiagnosed cancer frequently have other symptoms as well, such as unexplained weight loss and fever.
Taking certain medications can lead to night sweats. In cases without other physical symptoms or signs of tumor or infection, medications are often determined to be the cause of night sweats.
Antidepressant medications are a common type of medication that can lead to night sweats. All types of antidepressants including tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and the newer agents, venlafaxine (Effexor) and bupropion (Wellbutrin) can cause night sweats as a side effect, with a range in incidence from 8% to 22% of persons taking antidepressant drugs. Other psychiatric drugs have also been associated with night sweats.
Other types of drugs can cause flushing (redness of the skin, typically over the cheeks and neck), which, as mentioned above, may be confused with night sweats. Some of the many drugs that can cause flushing include:
Uncommonly, neurologic conditions may cause increased sweating and possibly lead to night sweats including
- Autonomic dysreflexia
- Post-traumatic syringomyelia
- Autonomic neuropathy