Written by: Sandra Eriksson Mirkovic, MD
As the name suggests, night sweats are repeated episodes of excessive sweating that occurs during sleep. Many who suffer from hyperhidrosis also suffer from excessive sweating during the night. To sweat a lot during the night can be a great discomfort. It can be a great struggle to sweat through clothes, waking up soaking wet and cold.
Your sleep gets disrupted and it can be hard or even impossible to share a bed with another person. This in itself can lead to sleepless nights and can have a severely negative impact on one's quality of life.
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What causes night sweats?
Night sweats can have many causes. During med school us doctors are taught that night sweats can be a severe symptom of various forms of cancer. This of course has to be thoroughly examined. It is therefore always important to rule out any underlying causes to excessive sweating, known as secondary hyperhidrosis.
This is important so that we don't miss important conditions, but also in order to find treatable or even curable conditions. It is even more important when it comes to night sweats. Lack of sweating during the night is one of the first diagnostic criterias when diagnosing primary focal hyperhidrosis on hands, feet and armpits.
However, throughout the years working with hyperhidrosis patients of whom many have had primary hyperhidrosis, meaning no other underlying cause for sweating, I have learned that many suffer from sweating during the night as well.
My experience is that sweating during the night is more common for those suffering from general/multifunctional hyperhidrosis with sweating from face, neck, chest, back, groin and behind than for those sweating from hands, feet and armpits, even if it might occur for them as well. With that being said, and I can not stress this enough, you should always seek medical attention for nightly sweating to get a proper diagnosis.
Sweating at night
Night sweats seem to be common for women as well as men. Children often sweat a lot during the night, especially just before falling asleep. But as always, if something seems uncharacteristic or unusual you should always seek medical attention to rule out any serious underlying conditions.
Excessive sweating during menopause is also a common occurance and many describe hot flashes coming and going both during day and night. Many experience this as the worst symptom of menopause and find that it consumes a lot of their energy.
There is medicine one can try for excessive sweating. This is often medicine from the group of anticholinergic drugs. However, this type of medicine often comes with a series of side effects and it is recommended that they are only taken periodically, as needed.
Some other types of drugs make you tired and sleepy. These can be suitable as treatment for night sweating, but might be a less appropriate alternative for treating daytime discomfort.
To summarize, if you suffer from any type of excessive sweating either during the day or during the night, seek help in order to:
- 1. Rule out underlying, serious or treatable conditions causes for your symptoms
- 2. To get help in relieving discomfort and increasing life quality
Remember, you are not the only one suffering from this condition and there is help available.
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