If you’ve woken up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, it can be a bit scary.
You could be experiencing night sweats, which are usually associated with menopause.
But medical experts say the condition can be caused by other issues or situations as well.
To find out more, doctors weighed in during interviews with Fox News Digital to share insights into the hot topic of night sweats — and what to do about it.
What are night sweats?
Excessive sweating during sleep, or night sweats, occurs when there is a dysregulation of the body's natural reaction to excess heat, said Jesus Lizarzaburu, M.D., a family physician with TPMG Grafton Family Medicine in Yorktown, Virginia.
"Symptoms include drenching sweats that may soak your bedding and sleepwear, unrelated to an overheated environment," Lizarzaburu told Fox News Digital.
What issues can cause night sweats?
Night sweats may be triggered by a number of factors.
Hormonal changes. The most common cause of night sweats is hormonal changes, such as menopause in women, said Dr. Lizarzaburu.
He said this is not limited to females, however.
To a much lesser extent, low testosterone in men may cause night sweats, too.
Medications. Certain medications such as antidepressants, drugs used to treat diabetes (hypoglycemics), hormone-blocking drugs used to treat certain cancers and certain psychiatric drugs may be at the root of night sweats, Lizarzaburu also noted.
Hormone disorders. Conditions including hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid gland can cause night sweats, he explained.
Infections. Infections such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valves), osteomyelitis (inflammation within the bones) and even abscesses can cause night sweats, said Lizarzaburu.
"However, I would like to point out that with infections, other symptoms such as fever or localized swelling would be present," he clarified.
How can night sweats be treated?
Treatment for night sweats really depends on the cause, noted Mike Sevilla, M.D., a family physician with Family Practice Center of Salem in Salem, Ohio.
He said treatment can include lifestyle modifications like avoiding night sweat triggers, sleeping in a cooler room and wearing more breathable clothing.
"I generally start with these initial steps," Sevilla said.
"There are possible medication options," he said. "However, I encourage people to check in with their family physician because there could be medical testing involved to rule out possible medical causes for the night sweats."
There are a host of lifestyle modifications and non-medication options to treat night sweats, he also indicated.
Here are some examples.
Watch food and drink triggers. "Avoid potential night sweat triggers before bedtime like alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, spicy foods and others," Sevilla said.
Time your workouts. Increase exercise during your waking hours and not right before bedtime, he noted.
Stay hydrated. He suggests sipping cool water before bedtime.
Wind down before bed. "Consider relaxation techniques like meditation or controlled breathing exercises," he said.
Create a favorable sleeping environment. Sleep in a cooler room and consider using a bedroom fan, said Sevilla.
Upgrade your bed dressings. Consider investing in a cooling pillow, cooling sheets or cooling mattress.
Wear breathable clothing. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight pajamas and dress in layers to name it easy to make adjustments during sleeping hours, he said.
Monitor your medications. Sevilla cautioned that some OTC vitamins and OTC supplements may cause night sweats and/or interfere with prescription medications.
Maintain a healthy weight. Staying active and being mindful of your diet may play a role in reducing the condition.
When is seeing a doctor warranted?
Seek medical care whenever your quality of life is affected, said Lizarzaburu of TPMG Grafton Family Medicine.
"If you are unable to have a full night of sleep because of night sweats, eventually this disruption will affect your quality of life," he noted.
Aside from the effects on quality of life and sleep, patients should be concerned the most seriously when they are present along with lymph node swelling, fever and unexplained weight loss, as these can be symptoms of lymphoma, Lizarzaburu told Fox News Digital.
A doctor or medical professional can help you diagnose the cause of your night sweats.
"For example, if menopause is the cause, one can start with supplements and escalate to hormone replacement," said Lizarzaburu.
"If [it's about] low testosterone in men, testosterone replacement can help."
He added, "If hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is the cause, medication can be prescribed to counter that."
And, if medication is causing the night sweats, a prescriber can "re-evaluate the condition to look for alternative medication or to adjust the doses," he said.
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