Night sweats: What causes them?

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Night sweats: What causes them?

Question

What causes night sweats?

Rebecca
California

Answer

Night sweats are usually defined as episodes of significant nighttime sweating that soaks your bed clothes or bedding. This is a fairly common problem that many people experience from time to time.

Although uncomfortable, nighttime sweating typically isn't a sign of a serious underlying medical condition. It may be triggered by something as simple as too warm a room or too many blankets on the bed. Potential medical causes of night sweats include:

  • Menopause
  • Anxiety
  • Medications such as certain high blood pressure drugs, over-the-counter fever reducers and antipsychotics
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Diabetes

See your doctor if night sweats occur on a regular basis and interrupt your sleep. Treatment is directed at the underlying cause, if it can be determined. Occasionally, night sweats are a symptom of a serious condition, such as cancer or infection. But in such cases, night sweats are often accompanied by other signs and symptoms, such as fever and unexplained weight loss.

Last Updated: 03/22/2007
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