What causes night sweats?

Night sweats can occur in patients who suffer from primary hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating with no underlying medical cause). However, if you suffer from this symptom it is good to get clinically assessed by a physician as it is possible that an underlying medical condition could be present (secondary hyperhidrosis).

To minimise night sweats it is good to have cotton sheets and pyjamas (rather than synthetic material). A fan or open window is also beneficial to create air flow to cool the skin and minimise excessive sweating.

What causes night sweats? The different causes explained

The reason why medical conditions cause night sweats is still largely unknown. However it is thought that biological factors that are released into the bloodstream might influence the region of the brain that controls the temperature, the hypothalamus. They may work to reduce the temperature set point of the body.

Acute and chronic infections may cause night sweats. Infections such as tuberculosis, endocarditis (infection of a heart valve) or osteomyelitis (bone infection) can cause night sweats.

A low blood sugar level (hypoglycaemia) often caused by diabetes medications or the diabetes condition itself can cause night sweats.

Some prescription medications e.g. antidepressants and blood pressure medications can contribute to night sweats. So when you come in for an assessment with one of our physicians ensure you bring in all your medications.

Hormone imbalances and disorders may also result in night sweats. Hyperthyroidism is one cause since it increases metabolic activity and results in increased heat production and sweating. For the same reason an over functioning pituitary gland can also result in increased sweating. A pheochromocytoma results in excessive sweating, increased heart rate and headaches. These conditions can all be investigated through conducting blood tests.

Rarely, cancer, (e.g. lymphoma) can result in night sweats. If you have recent weight loss and associated fevers your physician will exclude this through investigations.

Another rare cause for hyperhidrosis/night sweats is neurological conditions e.g. stroke or a focal neuropathy. During your assessment with a doctor they should conduct a neurological assessment to exclude this.

Those who suffer from psychological disorders like depression and anxiety may be more susceptible to having night sweats. In addition many of the medications for depression and anxiety also contribute to the hyperhidrosis/night sweats.

What causes night sweats in women?

The “hot flushes” that commonly accompany menopause can cause hyperhidrosis. This occurs because of a change in a woman’s hormones during menopause and peri-menopause. Other causes of night sweats in women are variations in hormorne levels that occur before their period commences, with oral contraception pills or during pregnancy.

Still sweating? Get in touch!

If you have tried using a clinical strength anti-perspirant and are still suffering sweat problems then we can help. Contact us now to book an appointment for treatment at one of our clinics (or if you have any questions) using the form on the right-hand side of this page.

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