Five Things to Know: What Causes Night Sweats and How Do You Treat Them?

Massachusetts General Hospital physician-investigators Elizabeth R. Roth, MD, and Leigh Simmons, MD, were recently featured in a article, 14 Causes of Night Sweats, Plus What to Do About Them. (Cleveland Clinic family medicine physician Amber Tully, MD, also contributed to the story.)

Here are five things to know:

By medical definition, night sweats are episodes of extreme overheating at night that cause your body to perspire so much you need to change your clothes or sheets.

Nights sweats are not driven by external factors such as heat or heavy blankets but by underlying, internal causes including perimenopause/menopause, certain prescription and over-the-counter medications, anxiety and consuming alcohol before bed.

Night sweats can also be a side effect of more serious health conditions, such as infections, type 1 diabetes, HIV, lymphoma and tuberculosis.

If you are regularly sweating while you sleep at night, first make sure that it’s not because your room is too hot or your blankets are too heavy.

If environmental factors are not to blame, consult your doctor to identify the underlying cause. Treatment is typically focused on addressing this cause, rather than on the night sweats themselves.

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