When to See a Doctor For Night Sweats

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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Senior Caucasian man in bed with insomnia

Night sweats are more than feeling warm and tossing a blanket aside in the middle of the night. If you have night sweats you wake up soaked—bedding and all. 

Night sweats are not a disease; they’re a symptom of another health condition or illness. Night sweats are rarely due to a serious health matter and a few tips can help you handle them yourself. A call to the doctor is in order though, if you want to try to stop night sweats or you’re concerned they may be linked to something that needs medical attention.

Common Causes of Night Sweats 

Both men and women as well as children can have night sweats. There’s a long list of conditions that cause them, but among the most common are:

  • Menopause and perimenopause: hormone level changes that lead to nighttime hot flashes

  • Antidepressants: medications including SSRIs and tricyclics

  • Hyperhidrosis: excessive sweating

  • Infections: including tuberculosis, endocarditis, abscesses and HIV infection

  • Acid reflux: reflux tends to worsen at night and can cause sweating

  • Medications: including hormone therapy, diabetes medications, fever reducers, and steroids

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

  • Certain cancers

    or cancer treatments

Night Sweats Treatment at Home

Night sweats can disrupt your sleep and leave you exhausted. They can be hard to stop, but some home remedies can ease them and help you cope. Here are some common sense measures to try: 

  • Keep the bedroom cool and make sure the air is circulating.

  • Wear moisture-wicking sleepwear.

  • Try quick-drying microfiber bedding.

  • Put a cooled gel pack under your pillow and flip the pillow as needed.

  • Avoid alcohol, spicy food and tobacco at night.

There are many herbal remedies available that claim to help night sweats, especially for menopausal women. Some evidence exists that black cohosh may help, but most herbs have not been shown to be effective. Some people have found success with dong quai, red clover, flaxseed, or soy. If you want to try an herbal remedy, get them from a reputable source and tell your doctor before you try them. Some early research suggests that complementary and alternative treatments, like acupuncture, hypnosis and meditation, may help with night sweats. 

When to See a Doctor for Night Sweats

Although night sweats are rarely an indication of a serious condition, call your healthcare provider if they are affecting your quality of life. A doctor may be able to help you, depending on the underlying cause. 

Prescription medication for night sweats includes hormone therapy, some antidepressants, and anti-seizure or blood pressure medicines. Occasionally, night sweats can be an indication of serious infection or certain cancers, including lymphoma. It’s important to see your doctor about night sweats if they are accompanied by:

Who to See for Night Sweats

If you are a woman and think you may be nearing menopause, see your gynecologist about night sweats. Otherwise, call your primary care provider, who can assess the possible causes. If necessary, he or she can send you to a specialist. You may see an infectious disease doctor or possibly an endocrinologist or neurologist. If there is a chance you may have cancer, your doctor can recommend an oncologist. Make sure you understand your insurance coverage before you see a specialist, as some insurers require a referral or have other coverage limitations. 

Night sweats are no fun, but generally they are nothing to worry about. However, if you are concerned about night sweats, consult your doctor who can help diagnose the cause and advise you about treatment options.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Sep 8
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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