Iron deficiency is linked to excessive sweating

Night sweats (hyperhidrosis): causes & treatment - when to see a doctor?

If you sweat profusely at night for no apparent reason, it is better to consult a doctor.Night sweats are not an illness, but a symptom that can have various causes - including serious illnesses.

Night sweating is usually harmless

The pajamas sticks to the body, the mattress is damp: Almost everyone has woken up at night and was totally sweaty. Mostly there are harmless causes behind it. The most common cause of night sweats is a cold or flu. It is also likely that sweating while sleeping is caused by high temperatures or poor air quality in the bedroom.

Lifestyle can also be responsible for night sweats: Excessive weight, smoking, alcohol consumption and heavy or spicy food in the evening disturb the night's rest and promote sweating during sleep. In addition, hormonal fluctuations, for example during menopause, can increase sweat production. The dose or composition of medication can also be responsible for the fact that you toss and turn restlessly during the night and excrete a lot of fluids.

Symptoms: how are night sweats noticeable?

The symptoms of night sweats are obvious: you wake up sweaty or even notice that the bed linen is soaked. The degree of night sweats can, however, be different. Sometimes it's just a wet forehead, sometimes a damp pillow. Night sweats can also cause sleep disorders. The feeling of cold caused by moisture can wake you up.

Night sweats: when to see a doctor?

However, if you regularly break into night sweats despite a cool bedroom and thin blanket, a visit to the doctor is advisable. "Anyone who sweats profusely at night for no apparent reason should investigate the cause," advises Dr. Wolfgang Wesiack, President of the Professional Association of German Internists (BDI). The internist advises not to ignore increased sweating at night. Especially if you haven't had any problems with it before and don't sweat excessively during the day. "Profuse and sudden sweating is a symptom that should always be investigated."

If there is a medical problem behind it, it is called nocturnal Hyperhidrosis. According to the expert, three common causes of profuse sweating at night are mental problems, metabolic diseases and tumors.

Possible causes of night sweats:

How much sweating is normal? A fluid loss of up to half a liter per night is considered normal. Likewise, occasionally, you wake up drenched in sweat after a nightmarish night. However, if the sweats persist for more than three weeks, you should consult a doctor - especially if additional symptoms such as weight loss, pain, difficulty breathing or digestive problems are added. An expert can research possible causes and treat them in a targeted manner.

Cause: infectious diseases

If the body is attacked by viruses or bacteria, the immune system reacts with an increased temperature in order to fight off the pathogens. The excessive heat leads to increased sweat production. Night sweats are therefore often a symptom of infectious diseases. These include acute infections such as flu or glandular fever, as well as chronic diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria.

Cause: medication

Sometimes night sweats also appear as a side effect of certain medicines. Medicines that can cause night sweats include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Beta blockers
  • antipyretic drugs (for example paracetamol)
  • blood sugar lowering agents
  • Hormone preparations (for example, used to treat breast cancer, prostate cancer, or endometriosis)

Cause: stress

Too much stress and restlessness encourage night sweats. "Unresolved problems, stress and fears are often expressed in sweat attacks," explains Wesiack. The reason: At night the distractions of everyday life are missing. The worries come to the fore and the subconscious works at full speed. "It can be compared to nightmares: Stress makes the heart beat faster, breathes faster and as a result we start to sweat."

Cause: metabolism and hormones

The hormones and metabolism also affect the body's thermoregulation. If the metabolism is disturbed, this can manifest itself in increased sweat production. Typical metabolic diseases that can be associated with night sweats are diabetes mellitus, gout or an overactive thyroid.

Changes in the hormonal balance can also lead to increased sweating at night. Menopausal women in particular suffer from hot flashes and night sweats due to the hormonal changes. The cause is the falling estrogen level, which leads to an increase in the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Cause: tumors

According to the Hamburg internist, tumor diseases are a third possible cause: "Even if these are relatively rarely the cause of night sweats, they must be considered." In this context, other warning signs such as attacks of fever, sudden weight loss, gastrointestinal complaints and loss of appetite provide important indications of a possible cancer. Night sweats are a typical symptom, especially in lymphatic cancer and leukemia.

Cause: heart disease

Palpitations and difficulty breathing in connection with night sweats are also a warning signal: "Since heavy sweating can also indicate a sick heart, for example an inflammation of the heart, the attending physician will also include this organ in the examination," explains Wesiack.

Cause: pneumonia

Pneumonia can also cause night sweats - especially in the elderly. "In the elderly, fever, a typical warning symptom for pneumonia, is often absent. Night sweats can then be an important guide," says the expert. If there are coughs, expectoration, exhaustion and painful breathing, the sick should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Therapy: what helps with night sweats?

Therapy for night sweats depends on the cause. First steps to prevent night sweats are:

  • Drink enough fluids during the day.
  • Refrain from alcohol and cigarettes in the evening.
  • Reduce your daily coffee consumption to one or two cups and do not drink it in the evening if possible.
  • Avoid fatty and spicy foods in the evening.
  • Take a cold shower before bed.
  • Wear light clothing for sleeping, ideally made of breathable material.
  • Make sure the temperature in the bedroom is comfortable: between 16 and 19 degrees is ideal.
  • Before bed, relax with meditation or some music. On the other hand, television and disturbing books or audio books are counterproductive.
  • As a home remedy, sage tea is also said to help against night sweats.

If there is still no improvement, there is probably a medical problem behind it. It is therefore essential to see a doctor if night sweats last for several weeks. This can, for example, adjust the medication if certain drugs are responsible for the increased sweat production at night. He can also use a blood test to determine whether there is an overactive thyroid and counteract it with appropriate medication.

If an infection is responsible for the excessive sweat production, the situation will improve after the illness is over. Depending on the illness, the doctor may give you an antipyretic Medication or prescribe antibiotics.

A psychotherapy can help against stress, mental problems and fears. The best thing to do is to talk to your family doctor about whether going to a psychologist is advisable for you.

If a serious illness, such as cancer, pneumonia, or heart disease, is the cause of night sweats, other symptoms usually occur as well. Therefore, pay attention to other symptoms, such as weight loss, pain, breathing difficulties, digestive problems, so that your doctor can make a clear diagnosis and start appropriate treatment as soon as possible.

Important NOTE: The information is in no way a substitute for professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The contents of t-online cannot and must not be used to independently make diagnoses or start treatments.

more on the subject

  • Subjects:
  • Health,
  • Sweat,
  • Stress,
  • Sleep,
  • Diabetes mellitus,
  • Metabolic disease,
  • Infectious diseases,
  • Sleep disorders,
  • Hot flashes,
  • flu