What Are Night Sweats?Night sweats occur frequently in people living with HIV. Simply put, night sweats are profuse sweating that is not related to exercise. As the name implies night sweats occur primarily while you sleep but can occur during the day as well.
What Are the Symptoms of Night Sweats?For fear of stating the obvious, sweating is the primary symptom of night sweats. Night sweats differ from other sweating in that they:
- occur without exercise
- they occur primarily while sleeping
- they can be very profuse; soaking bedclothes, sheets and blankets
What Causes Night Sweats?There are many causes of night sweats including:
- HIV infection - Night sweats can be just another symptom of HIV infection or they can be a sign of another infection such as the bacterial infection Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) and the fungal infection histoplasmosis.
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- Endocrine disorders such as diabetes and menopause.
- Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.
- Certain medications such as those used to control fever
- alcohol consumption
How Are Night Sweats Treated?While there is no way to eliminate night sweats entirely, certain interventions can make the condition less annoying. They include:
- Try to find the cause. Do you have an underlying infection or treatable condition that is causing the night sweats?
- Do you sleep well at night? If not you may have a sleep disorder that is contributing to the night sweats.
- What medicines are you taking? Could they be causing the night sweats?
- Reduce your alcohol consumption and avoid spicy foods before bedtime.
- Stay cool by keeping your bedroom cool or taking a cool shower or bath before bedtime.
What Should I Do About My Night SweatsThe worst thing about night sweats is they are so uncomfortable. Sleep becomes difficult when your bedclothes are soaked with sweat. If you wake in the middle of the night with "sweats" here's what you should do to get back to sleep.
- Take a cool bath or shower and change into dry bedclothes.
- Change your bedding. Make sure to use a water proof pad under the dry bedding to protect your mattress from being saturated from the sweats.
- If the weather permits, open a bedroom window or use a fan to circulate air. Be careful to avoid a chill.
If you suffer from night sweats or you find that your night sweats are more severe or more frequent than they used to be, contact your doctor so he or she can investigate the cause.