Night Sweats Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & When to Worry

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What causes night sweats in men, women, and children?

Many medical conditions and diseases can cause night sweats. Examples include women in perimenopause or menopause; medications, hormone problems (Low-T), low blood sugar, and neurological problems.

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.

Hormone disorders

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

Idiopathic hyperhidrosis is a condition in which the body chronically produces too much sweat without any identifiable medical cause.

Infections

Classically, tuberculosis is the infection most commonly associated with night sweats. However, bacterial infections, such as the following conditions can also be associated with night sweats:

Cancers

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.

Antidepressants

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 medications

Medicine taken to lower fever (antipyretics) such as aspirin and acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) can sometimes lead to sweating.

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:

Many other drugs not mentioned above, including cortisone, prednisone, and prednisolone, may also be associated with flushing or night sweats.

Neurologic conditions

Uncommonly, neurologic conditions may cause increased sweating and possibly lead to night sweats including

  • Autonomic dysreflexia
  • Post-traumatic syringomyelia
  • Stroke
  • Autonomic neuropathy

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