Monday, April 10, 2017

Cold Sweats and Night Sweats

Causes of cold sweats and night sweats

The human body normally produces sweat as a way to help keep cool. Sweating normally occurs with exertion such as when exercising or in high temperatures. However, there are other reasons for sweating.

Sweating can be triggered by fear or anxiety, and this is often referred to as a cold sweat. It comes on suddenly and results in cool, damp skin. It is the body's reaction to stress as part of the "fight or flight" response that helps us to react in a dangerous situation. A nightmare during sleep can trigger a cold sweat, and people with prolonged stress or anxiety problems can experience sweating as a symptom.

Cold sweat

A cold sweat is not a medical problem, but it can be a symptom of a serious condition that needs medical attention including:
  • A severe injury that is causing pain
  • Shock
  • Heart attack
  • Shortness of breath
  • Too little sugar in the bloodstream
Excessive sweating can also be a symptom of many other disorders, whether a cold sweat or if it occurs during sleep as a night sweat. Doctors often hear their patients complain of night sweats. Night sweats refer to any excess sweating occurring during the night. However, if your bedroom is unusually hot or you are using too many bedclothes, you may begin to sweat during sleep - and this is normal. In order to distinguish night sweats that arise from medical causes from those that occur because one's surroundings are too warm, doctors generally refer to true night sweats as occurring at night that can drench sleepwear and sheets, which are not related to an overheated environment.

Causes of excessive sweating

There are many different causes of excessive sweating. To determine what is causing excessive sweating in a particular individual, a doctor must obtain a detailed medical history and arrange tests to decide if an underlying medical condition is responsible for the sweating. Some of the known conditions that can cause excessive sweating are:

Menopause - The hot flushes that accompany the menopausal transition can occur at night or day and cause sweating. This is a very common cause of night sweats in women around the time of menopause.

Idiopathic hyperhidrosis - Idiopathic hyperhidrosis is a condition in which the body chronically produces too much sweat without any identifiable medical cause.

Infections - Classically, tuberculosis is the infection most commonly associated with night sweats. However, bacterial infections, such as endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valves), osteomyelitis (inflammation within the bones) and abscesses all may result in night sweats. Night sweats are also a symptom of HIV infection.

Cancers - Night sweats are an early symptom of some cancers. The most common type of cancer associated with night sweats is lymphoma. However, people who have an undiagnosed cancer frequently have other symptoms as well, such as unexplained weight loss and fevers.

Medication - Taking certain medication can lead to night sweats. In cases without other physical symptoms or signs of tumour or infection, medicinal side effects are often determined to be the cause of night sweats. Antidepressant medications are a common type of medicine that can lead to night sweats. Other mental health medications have also been associated with night sweats.

Medications taken to lower fever such as aspirin and paracetamol can sometimes lead to sweating. Other types of medications can cause flushing, which, as mentioned above, may be confused with night sweats. Some of the many medications that can cause flushing include:
  • Niacin (taken in the higher doses used for lipid disorders)
  • Tamoxifen
  • Hydralazine
  • Nitroglycerine
  • Sildenafil
Many other medications not mentioned above including cortisone medications such as prednisolone may also be associated with flushing or night sweats.
 
Hypoglycaemia - Low blood sugar can cause sweating. People who are taking insulin or oral anti-diabetic medication may experience hypoglycaemia at night that is accompanied by sweating.

Hormone disorders - Sweating or flushing can be seen with several hormone disorders including phaeochromocytoma, carcinoid syndrome and hyperthyroidism.

Neurological conditions - Uncommonly, neurologic conditions including autonomic dysreflexia, post-traumatic syringomyelia, stroke and autonomic neuropathy may cause increased sweating and possibly lead to night sweats.

Sweating too much? Here's some relief
Excessive sweating in women: Tips to stay dry:



1.Limit spicy foods and caffeine

If you experience excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, you're one of the 2-3% of people who sweat up to 10 times more than people without the condition. It can help to keep a symptom diary, including foods and drinks consumed, to identify the things that make you sweat heavily. Then avoid the sweating triggers you've identified. Common ones include alcohol and spicy food, such as curries or hot peppers.

2.Bathe with care

When bacteria mix with sweat, they cause odour. Bathe or shower daily, but not with products based on soap, which can make things worse. The Hyperhidrosis UK support group recommends using a special emollient wash available from pharmacies. Dry off completely, since bacteria and germs thrive in dampness.

3.Manage hot flushes and night sweats

If menopause causes hot flushes or night sweats, many remedies are available. Apply a cool, wet flannel to your skin or drink iced water for relief. Prescription medications and hormone therapy may also relieve hot flushes.  Some women try complementary therapies, but evidence is lacking for many of these. Seek medical advice if hot flushes are causing problems, and before trying a supplement or herbal remedy.

4.Choose the right clothes
Loose-fitting clothes and natural fabrics like cotton let air circulate around your skin, which slows the build-up of moisture. When you exercise, wear fabrics and socks that pull moisture away from your skin. Consider absorbent under layers like t-shirts. Keep an extra shirt or jacket handy in case your sweating becomes excessive. Black or white clothes are less likely to show sweat marks.



5. Reduce Stress
Stress can cause sweating, and excessive perspiration can make you stressed and anxious. Try to break this vicious circle with relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing and biofeedback. Yoga classes, guided imagery, or just some more me-time may help. If stress is a problem, seek medical advice. A talking therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may help.

6. Find the right antiperspirant

Aluminium chloride based antiperspirants can help reduce excessive sweating, in over-the-counter or prescription forms. These antiperspirants work by blocking sweat gland ducts. For mild symptoms, products are available in shops. Apply a thin layer of antiperspirant to towel-dried skin before bed. The active ingredients work while you sleep, then it is washed-off in the morning. Deodorants reduce odour, but don't help with wetness.
 

7. Care for your feet

If sweaty feet are a problem, avoid tights. Wear socks made from cotton or materials that wick moisture from the skin, and change your socks often. Make sure shoes are completely dry before you wear them again. This may mean not wearing the same shoes 2 days in a row. Absorbent insoles may also be helpful. Go barefoot, if you can safely. Antiperspirants aren't just for underarms. You can use them on your feet and hands, too.

8. Keep your cool
Lower temperatures at home and at work can help reduce sweating. Try a fan or air conditioner, or open the windows to keep air moving. Drink plenty of cold water and take cool showers or baths. Dress in layered clothing so you can remove or add layers as the temperature changes. In summer, stay out of the sun and avoid strenuous activities in the hotter parts of the day.

9. Stay healthy
Obesity, smoking and drinking alcohol can cause or intensify heavy sweating. So aim for a healthy weight, quit smoking and limit alcohol. Not only will you reduce sweating, but you'll also feel better and reduce your risk of many health conditions.

10. Protect your skin and clothes
Wet skin folds are prone to irritant dermatitis and infection. Consider underarm disposable sweat pads to absorb sweat and protect your clothing. Change your clothes daily and wash them regularly. Dry clothes thoroughly before wearing them again.

11. If excessive sweating causes problems in your life, and self-help tips haven't helped, talk to your GP about other treatments. A referral to a dermatologist may be recommended. Treatments for excessive sweating include Botulinum toxin injections (Botox) to block nerve signals from the brain to sweat glands, low-level electrical current treatment called iontophoresis, and some medications and surgical procedures can help reduce heavy sweating. If heavy sweating is accompanied by other symptoms like fever, unplanned weight loss, chest pain or a rapid heartbeat, seek urgent medical advice. It may be a sign of an untreated medical condition.

No comments: