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Night sweats: Six possible underlying health concerns

 Persistent and excessive sweating at night may indicate underlying health concerns. [iStockphoto

Waking up drenched in sweat can be unsettling and disruptive, prompting individuals to seek answers.

“A good diagnosis starts with taking a comprehensive history,” advises Dr Eva Njenga, an endocrinologist. “Then appropriate investigations follow, and once you make the correct diagnosis, it is easy to advise a patient on the appropriate medication for specificconditions.”

While the occasional bout of perspiration is normal, persistent and excessive sweating at night may indicate underlying health concerns.

Understanding the potential causes of night sweats is crucial in addressing this common yet often overlooked phenomenon. Here are six reasons that may be causing your night sweats:

1. Your stress levels: According to Dr Njenga, feelings of anxiety or stress can lead to sweating due to the release of anxiety hormones like adrenaline.

2. Alcohol and drug use: Limiting alcohol and substance use is advised for those experiencing night sweats, as alcohol consumption can increase body temperature and induce sweating.

3. You have a sweat gland disorder: Excessive sweat glands can lead to hyperhidrosis, causing excess sweating, although this condition is rare.

4. Underlying medical issues: Night sweats can occur as a result of various medical conditions or diseases, including malaria, endocarditis, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism, cancers such as lymphoma and neurological disorders like autonomic neuropathy.

5. The medications you’re taking: Certain medications can affect the parts of the brain that control body temperature or sweat glands, leading to night sweats. These medications include antidepressants, antiretrovirals, hormone therapy drugs, hypertension drugs, hypoglycemia medications, steroids, and painkillers.

6. You’re going through menopause: This natural process can cause hot flushes both day and night, with nighttime sweating being more common for most women in this stage.

“As estrogen and progesterone levels decrease during menopause, other hormones like Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) increase,” Dr Njenga explains. She advises in severe cases hormone replacement therapy is recommended.

 

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