Are you a man in your 20s, 30s, above 40, 50, 60 or 70 years old who occasionally or constantly suffer from severe and heavy night sweats? We have all the possible reasons or causes including hot flashes such as cancer, alcoholism, stress (anxiety), surgery, diabetes, infections, among others. We also have ways to treat or stop them and much more.
Night sweats or nocturnal hyperhidrosis in men, women or even children refers to the excessive sweating while someone is sleeping at night. Some texts often refer them to as ‘sweating in bed’ or ‘sleep sweat.’
This definition might not include it happening because they sleeping in very warm rooms, have very warm bedding or you wear many bedclothes since they will be expected to sweat and this is very normal.
Actual night sweats can be described as ‘very severe hot flushes’ or ‘drenching ’ where victims have ‘heavy sweating while sleeping’ and they wake up with their clothes and bed sheets drenched. The cause of this severe or excessive sweating is not influenced by their environment.
Whereas some people might have this problem occasionally, others will suffer from excessive, heavy or severe night sweats constantly until the underlying cause is correctly diagnosed and cured or prevented.
In terms of their effects, although very unpleasant, they are harmless in most cases. They only serve to indicate or are symptoms of something totally wrong with your body.
Due to their similarity to hot flushes (feverish heat that comes all over a sudden), it is not easy to say if they are just hot flashes or they could be night sweats.
Cold sweat including those at night
This is “the body's reaction to stress as part of the "fight or flight" response that helps us to react in a dangerous situation.” It happens all of a sudden resulting in a damp and cool skin. They can be triggered by anxiety, nightmares, heart attack, a severe injury that causes much pain, shortness of breath, shock, low blood sugar, etc.
With that understanding of nighttime sweating and cold sweats, let us shift to the focus of this discussion to men i.e. the young, middle-aged and elderly men.
Who can be affected
On who can be affected, it affects different age sets i.e. those under 20, under 25, under 30, under 40 or those over 40, over 50, over 60, over 70, at age of 75 and so on. Kids and children are no exception.
Symptoms often associated with the underlying cause. For instance, when caused by alcoholism it may have different symptoms compared to when it is caused by infections.
Their main symptom is drenching of your nightclothes and beddings. However, it is common to expect hot flushes, shaking, fever or chills or you could simply have these sweats alone.
What causes this phenomenon in males, why do guys have night sweats or which diseases cause them? There are many possible causes which we are going to see, each cause in details.
Some of the common causes in males especially those in their 20s, 30s, 40s, including the elderly men include the following:
1. Idiopathic hyperhidrosis
The first possible reason for excessive this problem is idiopathic hyperhidrosis which according to WebMD is “a condition in which the body chronically produces too much sweat without any identifiable medical cause.”
2. infection by various diseases
Night sweats in men, women or children can be due to various infections. Some of the common infections which are often associated sweats at night include:
- Tuberculosis – it is much known to cause serious sweating at night as well as chills, coughing blood, chest pain, breathing difficulties, among other symptoms.
- Osteomyelitis – This is a bacterial infection which causes bone inflammation problem characterized by high body fever often above 38⁰C as well as bone pain, swelling, warmth, and redness on affected bones areas.
- Endocarditis - it is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of your heart valves (endocardium) characterized by symptoms such as fever and chills, fatigue, shortness of breath, paleness, persistent cough, among others,
- Abscesses such as boils, tonsils, perianal, diverticulitis, peritonsillar, among others.
- Brucellosis bacterial infection
- HIV infection. according to DrED.com. “HIV-related night sweats occur primarily when sleeping, and can soak through bedclothes, sheets, and blankets.” About 50% of HIV positive persons experience this symptom of profuse sweating at night “most often in later stages of untreated disease (when the CD4 count is below 200 cells/mL)” [verywell.com].
Is it a symptom of cancer or is it just a symptom of cancer treatment? The answer to both the questions is yes. According to the American National Cancer Institute, night sweats and hot flushes in cancer patients may be due to “fever, tumor, or cancer treatment”. Many online cancer forums also confirm the same as many patients report this problem.
How does this happen?
Why does cancer cause this problem? There are a number of responses to this question. Some of the possible explanation includes the fact that some cancer types themselves be a cause this problem (and fever), others cases may be due to other infections we have already seen due to weakened immunity by cancer or its treatments especially chemotherapy and use of morphine.
The other possible correlation between cancer and nocturnal hyperhidrosis is hormonal level changes i.e. “changes in hormone levels can cause hot flushes and sweats. Your hormone levels may change because of cancer itself, or because of treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or hormone therapy” [cancerresearchuk.org]
For instance, men with prostate cancer or breast cancer may require hormonal treatments which will, in turn, cause hot flushes and nocturnal hyperhidrosis. This includes those who have undergone orchiectomy (one or both testicles removal). So what cancers cause excessive sweating?
According to www.cancer.net, while looking at lymphoma symptoms (Hodgkin) notes that most “most patients say their nightclothes or the sheets on the bed were wet enough to have to change them during the night. Sometimes, heavy sweating occurs during the day”. This is a clear indication that lymphoma cancer can cause excessive sweating.
According to Everyday Health, “Among leukemia side effects, night sweats are common; they are also a side effect of chemotherapy.” This often happens when you have to CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) which makes the body to raise its temperature as a mechanism to fight this cancer.
Also, leukemia patients are vulnerable to Flu and Cold which can cause fever too. However, this cancer can also cause nocturnal hyperhidrosis with no fever, according to oncologist Mikkael Sekeres, MD, director of the leukemia program at the Cleveland Clinic.
c). Other cancer
Emedicinehealth.com notes that “people who have undiagnosed cancer frequently have other symptoms as well, such as unexplained weight loss and fevers.” This is a clear indication that any type of cancer can cause this problem. Other cancer types that may cause sweating according to Cancer Research UK include
- Carcinoid tumors
- Liver cancer
- Born cancer
This does not exclude patients with brain cancer, breast cancer, etc. since we have already mentioned the fact that cancer treatment can be a cause of sweating at night in cancer patients.
The above can be used to account for instance of pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, and night sweats or even hot flashes.
4. Some medications
Some medications are known to cause mild to heavy sweating at night. It is estimated that 8% to 22% of people who use antidepressants end up with this problem. Some psychiatric drugs and medicine such as aspirin and acetaminophen which lower fever can cause this problem.
There are many other drugs and medicines that cause induce nocturnal hyperhidrosis in men such as sildenafil (Viagra), tamoxifen, niacin, cortisone medications (prednisone, prednisolone), etc.
If you having been bad cases since you began using a certain medication, it could be its side effects.
5. Diabetes and nighttime hypoglycemia
Being pre-diabetic or having diabetes can lead to daytime as well as sweating at night especially cold sweats. This is the reason why there are many people who have diabetes and sweating a lot at night or daytime.
Now people with diabetes often sweating profusely, then there must be a connection between diabetes and excessive sweating. So, what is the connection?
Normally, sweating at night in diabetic people are primarily due to nighttime hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and not a direct diabetes symptom. Diabetic patients who are using either insulin (diabetic type 2 patients) or oral medications for diabetes can end up with cold night sweats due to them developing hypoglycemia at night.
This is basically the connection between diabetes and nocturnal hyperhidrosis. Furthermore, this sweating at night can be accompanied by nightmares, headaches, restless sleep and some headache. Finally, although some people talk of people with diabetes as to have a stinky smell, yes their sweat has a different odor but it is not stinky but rather fruity smelling.
Gestational diabetes, Diabetes 1 and diabetic type 2
Both the two types of diabetes are associated with hypoglycemia in patients with type 1 diabetes expected to be affected by hypoglycemia more frequently as opposed to type 2 diabetes.
On the other hand, the chances of having gestational diabetes are very low since patients with this type of diabetes rarely have hypoglycemia problem.
- Diabetes autonomic neuropathy, a complication of diabetic mellitus, which according to Mayo Clinic can “cause excessive sweating, particularly at night or while eating.” Other symptoms include sexual dysfunction, hypoglycemia unawareness, urinal track problems, gustatory sweating, orthostatic hypotension, etc.
- Diabetes – lymphoma: “Patients with type 2 diabetes have a 20 percent increased risk of developing blood cancers, such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma” [lymphomacoalition.org]. This cancer as already seen does cause sweating at night.
- Gustatory sweating – this is “profuse sweating of the face, scalp, and neck during or immediately after ingestion of food or drink” [medscape.com] common in diabetic patients especially those with diabetic autonomic neuropathy. People with the problem often complain of head sweating i.e. head sweating while sleeping.
- Diabetes insipidus – Stanford University lists it as one of the causes of sleep hyperhidrosis.
Note that if you have diabetes, stay away from alcohol since alcoholism can worsen insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic patients.
6. Alcoholism and alcohol withdrawal
Why do I sweat after drinking alcohol or why do I have this excessive sweating after drinking alcohol? Is there a relationship between red wine and this condition? This part is going to enlighten on the connection.
It is a fact that alcohol cause nocturnal hyperhidrosis especially in alcohol intolerance, alcohol withdrawal or and alcohol-dependent patients.
Effect of alcohol on your body that could cause perspiration
When you drink alcohol, it affects your circulatory system, central nervous system and every other part of your body. It also raises heartbeat rate and makes your blood vessels much wider. All this could trigger body perspiration.
On whether you sweat out alcohol or not, perspiration can get rid of a small amount of alcohol while most of it will be broken down in your liver, so sweating yourself cannot get rid of most of the alcohol in your body.
Besides drinking alcohol, you could have nighttime sweats due to alcohol withdrawal especially to those who have developed an alcohol dependence problem.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms often begin a few hours from your last drink and can last for a number of days to weeks. “Sweating, clammy skin, and night sweats are common symptoms of withdrawal. You may also feel anxious, depressed, or moody” [healthline.com].
Other symptoms include nausea, shakiness, nightmares, fatigues, sleeping difficulties, fever, muscle pain, restlessness, body aches, loss of appetite, and alcohol insomnia.
Some patients may have severe symptoms such as confusion, rapid heartbeat, heart palpitation, tremors, vomiting, high blood pressure and a change in their respiration rate.
Delirium tremens - bad night sweats due to alcohol withdrawal
This is a more severe nocturnal hyperhidrosis alcohol withdrawal which according to Healthline.com, is “the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal. It can cause severe sweating, fever, hallucinations, and seizures.” It is a life-threatening condition and needs immediate medical attention.
Typical symptoms occur 48 to 96 hours after the last drink and they can last up to 10 days. Other symptoms include disorientation and confusion, body tremors, change in mental function, delirium, fear, hallucinations, quick mood changes, sleepiness, seizures, excitement, deep sleep lasting more than a day, irritability, increase activity, fear, among others.
Most of these symptoms are always accompanied by regular or constant heavy sweating while sleeping or severe drenching ones.
Due to a genetic mutation common among Asians, victims of this problem do not produce enzymes that help in alcohol breakdown. Such people often suffer from alcohol caused nocturnal hyperhidrosis which could be accompanied with other symptoms such as hives, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, a runny nose, facial redness and worsening of asthma to patients who already have it.
This alcohol intolerance has no cure and it can be dealt with by reducing or not using alcohol at all.
Dealing with alcohol nocturnal hyperhidrosis
Profuse sweating or any other serious nighttime sweating can leave your body dehydrated. Ensure you drink lots of water to replace lost fluids, avoid heavy blankets since they will increase the sweating, ensure your room temperature is comfortable, change bed sheets after sweating and rinse off your skin to get rid salts from dried sweat. Also, find a way to manage your alcohol abuse problem, dependence and get a good alcohol detox means.
7. After surgery
Is sweating normally after surgery? Why do people have post-operative nocturnal hyperhidrosis? For how long will this last after surgery? We have heard people talk about this problem after gallbladder surgery, knee surgery, heart surgery, hysterectomy, sinus surgery, appendectomy, abdominal surgery, back surgery, hip surgery, etc. or even after a surgical abortion.
There are a number of things which can cause this phenomenon after surgery such as the anesthesia used, medications give after surgery, the healing process, psychological anxiety associated with the surgery, and infections that may arise.
Some recent surgery victims often complain of bad nighttime sweats after their surgery while others say it is mild. This sweats at night might or might not be accompanied with fever i.e. no fever may be present and it can last for a short or longer time depending on the nature of your surgery.
Some evidence to support it if it occurs after surgery include
According to the Cardiothoracic Surgery University of Southern California on heart surgery patients notes that “patients often complain of night sweats for the first few weeks. Should you experience this, check your temperature to make sure that you do not have a fever. ”
Also, according to Dr. Stefano Sinicropi, M.D, “some sweating should be expected after spine surgery, as well as most other surgical procedures.”
8. Stress, anxiety, and depression
Can depression cause this issue or is there a connection with anxiety? What about stress,?
Of course, there are connections. According to WebMD, “people with prolonged stress or anxiety problems can experience sweating as a symptom.” Therefore anxiety, stress, and depression is the other possible reason for the bed sweats you have.
When you have they are due to stress or anxiety, you may “be trying rest, go to sleep, or when waking up, you notice you are flushed, very hot, and sweating for no apparent reason” [anxietycentre.com].
Excessive sweating while sleeping due to stress are often worse in men than women due to the different ways in which men and women deal with stress. This makes one related to stress to males more often than females.
When caused by stress, panic attacks, depression or anxiety may be profuse (excessive or heavy) or be mild. Furthermore, stressors such as sleep apnea stress, male perimenopause and male menopause stress, lymphoma stress, GERD stress, can worsen cases due to anxiety.
Therefore you can suffer from nocturnal hyperhidrosis associated with stress itself as well as the night stress post-traumatic disorder where the previous trauma experience causes some cold sweats at night or even daytime.
9. Male menopause - low testosterone
Male menopause can cause this problem due to testosterone, late-onset hypogonadism, and androgen deficiency. It affects men aged 50 years and above starting from the late 40s. “The symptoms of male menopause include depression, sadness, irritability, low libido, erectile dysfunction, anxiety, hot flushes and sweating, and memory and concentration problems” [familydoctor.co.nz].
Clearly, you can see that male menopause can cause sweating and hot flushes as well as depression and anxiety which can worsen the sweating.
10. Hormonal disorders
Having hormonal disorders especially hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), carcinoid syndrome and pheochromocytoma can result in flushing and sweating in men, women, and children.
11. Neurological problems and conditions
Some neurological problems and conditions such “autonomic dysreflexia, posttraumatic syringomyelia, stroke, and autonomic neuropathy may cause increased sweating and may lead to night sweats” [WebMD].
12. Other possible cause
Besides what we have already seen in details other possible causes include the following:
- Stroke and post-traumatic syringomyelia (cyst that develops on the spinal cord and it is fluid filled)
- Numbness in feet and hands
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease GERD
- Substance and drug abuse such as heroin besides alcohol which we have already seen
- sleep disorders such as and difficulties in breathing at night especially to people with obstructive sleep apnea
- Parkinson disease
- Covering yourself with many or very warm duvet or blankets
- Eating foods full of spices just before you go to bed
- Sleeping in rooms that are very warm
- Being involved in vigorous exercises before you go to bed.
- Poor air conditioning in warm weather
- Putting your thermostat temperature so high
- “Drinking hot beverages before going to bed” [Healthline.com]
- Excessive consumption of caffeine
In men over 50
For 50 years old men, they can be attributed to male menopause. Besides andropause, any other condition we have seen can cause causes of sweating at night in men over 50. For instance, nocturnal hyperhidrosis and weight loss in men over 50 may be due to any of the cancers we have already seen such as lymphoma, lung cancers, etc. or diabetes.
On how to treat this condition, it cannot be any different from people of any age unless it is caused by andropause.
In men over 40
What causes this problem in men over 40 are not different from the causes we have already seen with perhaps the exception of andropause where which begins during a man’s late 40s and/or early 50s.
The symptoms that come together with this excessive nocturnal hyperhidrosis can be of help in diagnosis and treatment.
With no fever
It is normal for some sweating at night to develop with shaking, chills or fever especially some infections and cancers. Chills and shaking is often due to fever itself.
It is also possible for some of the causes we have seen including infections to cause excessive sweating at night without any fever because fever is not a sickness but a body’s response to a certain underlying problem. As patient.info reports “night sweats occur when you sweat too much at night. They can be related to a fever but they can also occur without a fever”
Infections both bacterial and viral can cause fever including HIV, flu, cold, etc. It is the response of the body where it tries to raise its temperature to make it hard for the various pathogens to survive inside the body.
As we have seen, there are many possible causes. Therefore it is very important to see a GP if sweating in your sleep remains persistent. The GP will look at your medical history and conduct some tests to help him know the reason behind your excessive sweating during sleep.
Severe, excessive or profuse
From what we have seen, it is logical to conclude that some of the severe or heavy causes include the following:
- Lymphoma cancer
- Delirium tremens due to severe alcohol withdrawal
- Male menopause
- Some medications
- Neurological problems
How to stop, cure or treat it?
On how to stop this condition, you need to first get a correct diagnosis to know what causes it i.e. the underlying cause. This will then determine the appropriate treatment methodology. Each cause might require different treatment procedure.
For instance, how to stop one from alcohol withdrawal, infection, cancers, endocrinal disorder (thyroid problem), and so on will be different. Let your health expert give you the best ways to manage any of these causes.
Some of the common treatment in men or even women include the following:
- For bacterial infection – Your GP will recommend various antibiotics as a means to stop this sweating. Antibiotics will cure the bacteria causing your excessive or severe sweating while asleep.
- Cancer victims – If you have cancer, cures might involve treating cancer with various techniques such as chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, stem cell transplant, targeted therapy, hormonal therapy, precision medicine, and immunotherapy. Unfortunately, if the treatments are the cause of your sweating while sleeping, you have to look at other means to reduce the sweats unless they are life-threatening, something they are not in most instances.
- Alcohol and substance abuse – Those who are alcoholics and abuse various drugs try should try various therapies and enlist professional help. This will help them beat their addictions.
- Diabetic patients – They should check insulin level and blood sugar levels especially before they go to bed. A continuous mechanism for measuring blood sugar level such as the continuous glucose monitor device will be helpful.
- Medication use – if the medications you are using such as antidepressants are causing your nighttime sweats. Talk to your GP to prescribe alternative medications. This will be the ideal way to stop night sweats from antidepressants.
- Andropause: essive sweating medications such as Botox injections, antidepressants, nerve blocking medication and so on.
- Go for sweat glands removal if armpits are the only ones affected. Also, try nerve surgery and electrical current (for non-pregnant mothers or those who do not have a pacemaker).
- Try Anticholinergic– try using this medication which help in reducing sweating at night after prescription by a health expert.
- Use clinical strength antiperspirant - Use clinical strength antiperspirant on your underarms, feet, hands, hairline, chest, groin, chest and other areas that are susceptible to sweating
- Relaxation therapy - Try relaxation breathing therapy or exercises
Natural remedies and tips
Besides the above treatments, you can also consider natural remedies or stop this condition naturally. Some of the common ways to keep from sweating at night include:
1. Black cohosh herb
Black cohosh herb is one for herbs for hot flashes and night sweats. It is often recommended to women who have these menopausal symptoms but can also help anyone with this problem. This is because it helps in lowering your temperature thus reduce excessive sweating at night in men too. Do not use it if you have liver disease since it can cause further stress on your liver.
This substance which is made from the onion skin can help reduce chronic sweating at night especially amongst cancer patients since it has the effect on cancerous cells.
3. Stay away from triggers
We have mentioned a few things that can cause this problem such as spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, etc. Stay away from this triggers to prevent chances of your body overheating.
4. Lower your thermostat temperature
To avoid excessive sweating while sleeping, it is ok to lower your thermostat temperature by a few degrees. Do not overdo it.
5. Air conditioner
Having an air conditioner is another way to reduce nighttime sweating since it will keep the air moving and ensure your body remains cool.
6. Try these lifestyle changes and appropriate clothing
Bathe daily, change your socks often, ensure your feet are always dry and consider wearing appropriate clothing. This can reduce body heating and consequently this problem in both male and female. Breathable, bed sheets and night clothes made from natural fiber are often recommended.
Furthermore, ensure you get adequate daily exercise, manage your weight and avoid spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, heroin, and eat about 2-3 hours before you go to sleep
We hope you now know what helps or what to take for this annoying condition.
When to see a doctor
See a doctor when you constantly have night sweats, they affect your normal sleep or they are accompanied with other symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, chest pain, chills, lightheadedness, fever higher than 104°F, among other serious symptoms.
References and cited works