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Severe night sweats are pronounced and people waking from this may discover soaking nightclothes and sheets or blankets. They’re often associated with the hot flashes that women get when they are in perimenopause or menopause, but this is only one of a number of common causes of severe night sweats. A variety of medical conditions, infections, and medications may also result in this symptom.
People may suffer the rare night sweat episode due to something else, like eating very spicy food. Generally, it’s best to define severe night sweats as something occurring fairly regularly or during a period of time when a specific condition could also be defined. It’s worth noting that potential severity of some common causes of night sweats means this symptom should be mentioned to doctors, unless the cause is clearly benign and transient, like several months of especially hot and humid nights.
Some medical conditions are common causes of serious night sweats. As mentioned, perimenopause and menopause are known causal factors, and women can also get hot flashes during the day. Pregnancy may occasionally cause night sweats too.
Another medical condition called idiopathic hyperhidrosis leads to excessive sweating both night and day. Hypoglycemia or persistently low blood sugar may lead to this condition, as can hyperthyroidism or too much thyroid hormone. Some cancers, particularly lymphoma, can also produce severe nights sweats. A tumor on one of the adrenal glands, called a pheochromocytoma, is rare but may be a cause of this profuse nocturnal sweating, too.
Certain infectious viruses like the flu virus, especially when accompanied with fever, may result in night sweats. More resilient, incurable viruses like AIDs are known for causing this symptom, too. Bacterial infections that are common causes of serious night sweats include tuberculosis, or bone and heart infections, but more common bacterial infections of the lungs or throat, like pneumonia or strep throat, could produce night sweats, particularly if they present with fever.
A host of medications may be common causes of severe night sweats and many of these medications are used frequently. For example, many types of antidepressants create this condition in about 20% of people who use them, and the popular drug for erectile dysfunction, Viagra®, can have this side effect. Commonly used fever-reducers like acetaminophen and aspirin have been linked to increased night sweats incidence. Other medications that may create this problem include thyroxidine (Synthroid®), insulin, which can create low blood sugar if not carefully monitored, prednisone, prednisolone, tamoxifen, niacin, and nitroglycerin. Patients can read about possible side effects from the medicines they take to see if other drugs list this as a symptom; many medications that list flushing as an adverse effect are also capable of causing severe night sweats.