Ask the Doc
Ask the Doc
Ask The Expert
August 08, 2013
Night sweats are very common. And the cause is often not serious.
Here’s my approach to someone with new night sweats. I first ask about the temperature in the bedroom, and how many blankets you sleep with. Next I want to know if you are having fevers during the day. And if you have been losing weight without trying. If you haven’t already checked your temperature several times over a couple days, you should.
If you are experiencing fever or weight loss, then the cause could be serious. You could have an infection, a non-infectious inflammatory disorder or cancer.
If you feel well during the day and don’t have any fever or weight loss, then a serious cause is less likely. But you should still consider these important possibilities:
Sleep apnea — especially if you snore, get sleepy during the day, or both
A side effect of a medicine. You should review all herbs, supplements and medicine you take with a pharmacist.
Low blood sugar (though this is not likely unless you have diabetes)
An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism). Usually there would be additional symptoms, such as weight loss despite a good appetite, rapid heartbeat, sweating during the day, and feeling jittery.
Other rare hormonal disorders.
You should definitely see your doctor to discuss the night sweats. In the meantime, here are some things you can try to decrease the sweats:
- Keep the bedroom cool and open a window.
- Avoid spicy food, especially at night.
- Don’t drink alcohol for a while.
- Get up, towel off, and change bedclothes immediately as needed.
Quite often, doctors can’t find a specific cause for night sweats. In these cases, the sweats usually go away on their own.
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