Hot flashes and night sweats can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender. The causes of night sweats (also called "sleep hyperhidrosis") are complex and varied. Hot flashes and night sweats in women, for instance, may be related to menopause, while medications and certain health conditions can cause night sweats in men as well as women.
People experiencing night sweats suffer from more than just moist pillowcases. Night sweats can soak nightclothes and sheets. After changing sheets or nightclothes, people may have trouble falling back asleep.
The causes of night sweats in men and women are varied, and pinpointing exact triggers can be difficult. While night sweats can be a symptom of a serious physical condition, excess sweating may also result from environmental factors, such as sleeping in a room that's too hot. Night sweats can also be triggered by anxiety and stress. Usually, night sweats aren't a sign of a serious medical problem.
Night sweats in women may develop due to hormonal fluctuations. Menopause can trigger hot flashes and night sweats in women. Pre-menopausal women may also develop night sweats due to hormonal disorders.
Night sweats in men can be caused by a variety of factors. According to the Sleep Disorders Guide (2008), low levels of testosterone may cause night sweats in 5 percent of older men. However, in most cases, changes in testosterone levels cause no problems for men as they age.
Night sweats are generally not a major health concern, though in some cases they can be a symptom of a serious medical condition. Chronic, unexplained night sweats should be reported to a doctor.
Infections are possible causes of night sweats. Night sweats are a common symptom of tuberculosis and malaria. AIDS, infections of the bones or heart lining, and a bacterial infection called brucellosis are also possible causes of night sweats.
Symptoms of lymphoma and leukemia may include night sweats. Other medical causes of night sweats may include:
Both over-the-counter and prescription medications may also trigger night sweats. Antidepressants are common causes of night sweats. Other drugs that have been associated with night sweats include:
If night sweats are caused by environmental factors, simple steps such as adjusting the temperature of the room or removing extra blankets can resolve the issue. However, if the cause is an underlying medical condition or side effect of a medication, the solution may not be as straightforward. If you're suffering from unexplained night sweats that are disrupting your sleep, talk to your doctor, especially if you also have other symptoms, such as unexplained weight loss.
Conrad Stoppler, M. (2006). Night sweats. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=57394.
Mayo Clinic. (2009). Night sweats. Retrieved September 13, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/night-sweats/MY00576.
Sleep Disorders Guide. (2008). Night sweats in men. Retrieved September 14, 2010, from http://www.sleepdisordersguide.com/night-sweats-men.html.
Stanford University. (1998). Sleep hyperhidrosis (night sweats, excessive sweating). Retrieved September 13, 2010, from http://www.stanford.edu/~dement/sweats.html.
information on health-related topics, not medical advice, diagnosis or
treatment recommendations. Please consult your physician if you have questions