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Diseases With Night Sweats

Night sweats are a symptom of many disorders, some quite serious 1. A comprehensive health history and physical exam by a physician is necessary to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Night sweats may indicate hidden infection in the body, an autoimmune digestive disease such as Chron's, or the presence of malignant tumors or leukemia 1. More commonly, night sweats are a result of hormonal imbalance or the side effects of medications 1.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Infections

Night sweats are a classic symptom of active tuberculosis 1. However, the presence of night sweats with no other symptoms for six to eight weeks makes it less likely that this symptom is the result of tuberculosis infection 1.

Initial HIV infection can cause flu-like symptoms of fever, chills, night sweats and rashes 1. After five to seven years, early- to medium-stage HIV infection might be characterized by fatigue, night sweats, weight loss and mouth ulcers 1. Early detection and treatment can slow the progress of HIV infection.

Endocarditis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the inner layer of the heart, including the cardiac valves. Risk factors include congenital heart defects, history of cardiac surgery, advanced age, intravenous drug use, colorectal cancer, or a history of rheumatic fever. Symptoms may include a spiking fever and a new or worsening heart murmur. Blood tests and echocardiography are diagnostic for endocarditis.

Endocrine Disorders

What Are the Causes of Headaches & Sweating?

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The endocrine system includes hormone-secreting glands.

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is most likely to occur during the night when the liver releases less glucose because the body has minimal need for energy. The pancreas normally responds by reducing secretion of the hormone insulin. Heavy sweating that saturates bedsheets, along with headaches and disturbed dreams, may occur when blood sugar drops. Diabetes is a serious disorder requiring careful monitoring and medical management. Small, frequent, high-protein snacks and avoiding junk food may remedy mild hypoglycemia.

Treatment options include medication, radiation, or surgery, depending on the disease's severity and individual response to therapy.

Drug Dependency

Prescription medications may also cause night sweats as a side effect 1. They include some blood pressure, anti-depressant, muscle relaxant and cholinergic (used to treat glaucoma) medications such as:

  • propranolol (Inderal)
  • pilocarpine (Salagen)
  • amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • venlafaxine (Effexor)
  • cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)

Don't discontinue medications without discussing concerns about side effects with a doctor or pharmacist.

The Wrap Up

Night sweats are a symptom of many disorders, some quite serious. Night sweats may indicate hidden infection in the body, an autoimmune digestive disease such as Chron's, or the presence of malignant tumors or leukemia. Initial HIV infection can cause flu-like symptoms of fever, chills, night sweats and rashes. The endocrine system includes hormone-secreting glands. Don't discontinue medications without discussing concerns about side effects with a doctor or pharmacist.

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