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Waking Up Sweating

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When a person wakes up drenched in sweat, even if the room temperature is cool, then that person might be suffering from a medical condition that is known as sleep hyperhidrosis. This can occur in a localized manner (no underlying pathological condition) or generalized (often a symptom of other medical conditions). It affects persons of any age but most commonly appears in adults. Women are more affected by this condition than men, especially those who are going through menopause. Also, dark skinned individuals present a higher risk for sleep hyperhidrosis than those with a fair skin.

There are certain factors that increase the risk for a person to wake up sweating. These are, among others: obesity, drinking excessive quantities of caffeine-based drinks, alcohol and eating unhealthy foods. Also, it is important to understand that the excessive sweating during the night might represent a sign that there is an infection somewhere in the body. It is for the best to consult a doctor and identify the exact cause that leads to you waking up drenched in sweat. The doctor will recommend the necessary tests and investigations for the confirmation of the diagnosis.

Causes of Waking Up Sweating

These are the main causes that can lead to you waking up sweating:

  • Menopause – entering menopause, women experience an entire range of upsetting symptoms, including hot flashes, weight gain and excessive sweating, including during the night
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Medication – anti-depressants, anti-inflammatory medication (aspirin), corticosteroids (prednisone), medication for sleep apnea, anti-psychotics, medication to lower high blood pressure, anti-histamines, hypoglycemic agents
  • Alcohol drinking
  • Addiction to drugs (heroin)
  • Low blood sugar (in diabetes)
  • Infection – tuberculosis, endocarditis, osteomyelitis, abscess (of lung, liver or spleen), HIV, cystitis, fungal infections , bacterial infections (brucellosis), viral infections (mononucleosis)
  • Cancer – lymphoma, leukemia, breast cancer
  • Hormonal dysfunction – overactive thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s disease), acromegaly
  • Digestive disorders – GERD, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease
  • Idiopathic – the exact cause that leads to the appearance of sweating during the night is unknown
  • Environmental – not enough air in the room, too many blankets, synthetic bed sheets
  • Emotions, stress or anxiety
  • Burn out syndrome
  • Chest pain
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Sarcoidosis – this is a medical condition in which nodules appear in various organs, these nodules being comprised of inflammatory cells
  • Granuomatous disease – this is a genetic disease in which the immune system lacks the necessary strength to kill certain type of bacteria or fungi
  • Disorders of the bone marrow – myelofibrosis (this is a medical condition in which the normal production of blood cells is disrupted)
  • Rheumatological disorders – arteritis (inflammation of the arterial walls)
  • Neurological disorders – stroke, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, migraine, head trauma
  • Mercury poisoning

Treatment

These are the most common courses of treatment for the persons waking up sweating:

Self-care:

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  • Blanket removal and room ventilation can alleviate the discomfort caused by the excessive sweating
  • Wiping or washing the localized areas in the body where the sweating has occurred
  • Changing clothes and taking a shower with the water temperature at a moderate level (towards colder if possible, to induce vasoconstriction and reduce sweating). It is also recommended that you take a cold shower before actually going to bed.
  • Lowering the room temperature
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and eating spicy foods before going to bed
  • Drink water through the night as well (keep a bottle of water by the bed)
  • Emotion, stress and anxiety control
    • Relaxation techniques
    • Breathing therapy
    • Counseling
    • Time management
    • Physical exercise
  • Lifestyle changes
    • Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol
    • Eliminating caffeine-based drinks from the diet
    • Healthy fruits and vegetables eaten on a regular basis
    • Drinking plenty of water
    • Avoiding spicy or greasy foods
    • Seek treatment for the underlying medical condition that causes excessive sweating

Herbal remedies:

  • Black cohosh tea (andropause)
  • Red clover (menopause)
  • Motherwort (soothing effect)
  • Sage tea (calming effect)

Topical antiperspirants (with aluminum ions) – these have the ability to block the sweating glands but they also present an increased risk for irritation of the skin.

Medication:

  • Anti-cholinergics (prevent excessive sweating)
  • Botulinum toxin – topical administration (subcutaneous injections)

Other treatments:

  • Paralysis of sweat glands through electrical stimulation and drug administration
  • Surgery – severe cases of excessive sweating
  • Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (controversial)


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