If you don't have air conditioning or you just run hot, you probably often find yourself sweating in the middle of the night. And that's to be expected to some degree, especially during the summertime. But night sweats could also be a reason to see your doctor. Experts warn that if you experience excessive sweating at night, you should speak with your doctor as soon as possible and get a blood test. To learn how to discern general night sweating from sweating that could be a sign of something more serious, read on.
Excessive night sweating can be an early sign of leukemia.
Doctors say that sweating at night could be an early sign of leukemia, a cancer of blood-forming tissues that affects the body's ability to fight off infection. According to Medical News Today, a person in the early stages of leukemia may experience night sweats as their body's temperature climbs in an effort to fight off infections.
Of course, not all sweating at night is due to leukemia. One of the key differences between general night sweating and sweating due to leukemia is the quantity of sweat. Medical News Today explains that night sweats linked to leukemia are excessive, often "causing a person to wake up drenched in sweat, even when in a comfortably cool room." They add that in some cases, the person may sweat so profusely that their sheets or clothing are soaked so significantly that they're unable to sleep in them.
Leukemia Care said that many patients describe the feeling of night sweats as having just gotten out of a swimming pool or sauna and then laying in bed. "In hindsight, the night sweats were a big giveaway. It wasn't just a bit of a hot night—it was sheets drenched," one patient told Leukemia Care. "It's an unnatural type of sweat at night."
Other early signs of leukemia include bruising easily, loss of appetite, and fatigue.
If your night sweats come with other tell-tale symptoms of leukemia, Medical News Today advises that you see a doctor. Some of these other notable early signs of leukemia include fever, unexplained weight loss, a loss of appetite, or fatigue. In addition, some other early signs that you may notice include bone and joint pain; weakness; chronic infections; bruising or bleeding easily; tiny red, brown, or purple spots on the skin; and swollen lymph nodes.
A combination of these symptoms means your doctor should test your blood for a reduced number of platelets and red and white blood cells, which are indicators of leukemia. They may also examine you for an enlarged spleen or liver.
Leukemia most commonly effects people over the age of 65.
Leukemia tends to most commonly target either end of the spectrum of ages. Cleveland Clinic says it is most common in older adults between the ages of 65 and 74. However, leukemia is also the most common cancer among children under the age of 15.
Research from the National Cancer Institute estimates that 61,090 people will be diagnosed with leukemia in 2021.
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Night sweating can also be linked to anxiety, medications, and hormone disorders.
Excessive sweating at night can occur for a handful of reasons, and for women of a certain age, you likely chalk it up to menopause. But Leukemia Care points out that night sweats can be linked to pregnancy, anxiety, infections, hormone disorders, or low blood sugar as well. They can also occur due to other things you're putting in your body, such as medications or alcohol. And sometimes the cause of excessive sweating is unknown but harmless, which is called idiopathic hyperhidrosis.
"I see patients about night sweating all the time," Aris Iatridis, MD, a sleep medicine specialist and pulmonologist at Piedmont Healthcare said on the company's website. "The most common cause of night sweats is menopause, but other illnesses and medications can also play a role. … We want to determine the underlying cause and treat it."