Sweating normally occurs at night when the room, environment or bedding may be making you hot. Night sweats occur when you sweat excessively at night despite the surrounding environment being cool. In this case, it's likely that you will need to change nightwear and sheets, as they are soaked through. Persistent night sweats can be a sign of serious health conditions and should be checked with your doctor if they occur.
Night sweats can occur as a side effect of many medications (such as antidepressants and steroids). Women who are going through the menopause can experience night sweats as hot flushes. It can also occur with anxiety, low blood sugar and thyroid disease. Alcohol and drug use can also lead to night sweats. More serious conditions such as tuberculosis, blood cancers, and autoimmune conditions have been implicated.
It would be a good idea to speak to your doctor if your night sweats are persistent, interrupt your sleep, or are associated with other symptoms of concern, such as weight loss, fevers or a cough. If you are around 50 years old and your periods are irregular, this could be a sign of the menopause and your doctor will be able to advise you.
Your doctor will review any medication you are on, take a family history of any medical problems, and may refer you for some blood tests and further investigations depending on the severity of your symptoms.
Treatment depends on the underlying cause. If your doctor thinks it is due to your medication, they may recommend reducing or stopping it. If your night sweats are due to any hormonal imbalances, your doctor may recommend medications to rebalance them.
If this is a part of the menopause, there are various treatments to discuss with your doctor that can help. If the symptoms are possibly being caused by a cancer, your doctor will urgently refer you to a specialist to investigate and treat this.
If it is caused by an underlying medical condition, it can be difficult to prevent. However, you can combat the symptoms by wearing lighter clothing or blankets and even keeping a window open or a fan on you at night.
It is important to keep alcohol and caffeine intake to a minimum. It is best to avoid drug and tobacco use and to avoid increasing your core body temperature. It's also best to avoid hot drinks or exercise close to bedtime.
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