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What Is Nocturnal Hyperhidrosis?

What Is Nocturnal Hyperhidrosis?

Sweating is a biological function that helps regulate the body’s temperature. As sweat evaporates from your skin, it cools your body.

In most instances, sweating is normal. People sweat from warm temperatures, during exercise, or as a response to situations such as anger, fear, or embarrassment.

Some individuals produce excessive sweat even when there are no triggers. Their bodies produce more sweat than required to regulate normal body temperature. They suffer from a medical condition known as hyperhidrosis.

According to a study, approximately 15.3 million Americans (4.98%) suffer from hyperhidrosis. The numbers may be higher since most people don’t know it’s a treatable condition. They may also be too embarrassed to seek medical help.

Hyperhidrosis can present itself as mild dampness or severe dripping of sweat. Excessive sweating can be embarrassing, uncomfortable, and anxiety-inducing.

Some factors that cause hyperhidrosis include hormonal imbalance, infection, reaction to medicine, or terminal illnesses.

You should always consult your doctor to find the underlying cause. The doctor will collect your history, run tests, and offer the appropriate treatment.

Nocturnal Hyperhidrosis, Explained

An overheated room or too many clothes may increase sweating at night. But, this isn’t nocturnal hyperhidrosis.

Excessive sweating is divided into two categories: primary hyperhidrosis and secondary hyperhidrosis.

Primary hyperhidrosis begins in childhood or adolescence. It is hereditary and not caused by an underlying medical condition. It often occurs in specific parts of the body such as the hands, feet, underarms, or face.

Underlying medical conditions cause secondary hyperhidrosis. It often occurs all over the body.

Nocturnal hyperhidrosis (also called night sweats or sleep hyperhidrosis) are episodes where sweat drenches your bedding and sleepwear to the extent of disrupting your sleep.

A study on the prevalence and predictors of night sweats revealed that older people are more likely to suffer from excessive sweating. Peak prevalence occurs in women and men between the ages of 41 and 55 years.

Do I Have Nocturnal Hyperhidrosis or Normal Sweating?

The major difference between nocturnal hyperhidrosis and normal sweating is the amount of sweat produced.

Individuals who suffer from nocturnal hyperhidrosis sweat four or five times more than the average person.

Triggers such as fear, anger, or anxiety cause sweating. Whereas, nocturnal hyperhidrosis occurs due to genetics or medical conditions.

It is important to get to the root cause of nocturnal hyperhidrosis since it causes difficulty falling asleep. According to medical professionals in the UK, lack of sleep puts you at risk of serious terminal illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Lack of sleep impairs memory and leads to depressed moods.

What Causes Nocturnal Hyperhidrosis?

Some medical conditions and factors that cause nocturnal hyperhidrosis include:

Hormonal Imbalance

Hormonal imbalance occurs when there’s too much or too little of a hormone in your blood.

Hormonal imbalance such as menopause or perimenopause among women causes excessive sweating. Low estrogen levels cause menopause.

A study on the link between depression and menopause found that almost 80% of women who are in perimenopause have hot flashes.

A drop in testosterone levels among men can lead to excessive sweating.

Other hormone disorders include pheochromocytoma, carcinoid syndrome, and hyperthyroidism.

Infection

Infections can cause night sweats. Tuberculosis (TB) is the most common infection associated with night sweats.

Other infections that cause night sweats include Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valves), osteomyelitis (infection within the bones), and abscesses (including boils, the appendix, tonsils, and diverticulitis).

Terminal Illness

Another cause of night sweats is terminal illnesses, such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and cancer. Night sweats are a common early symptom of lymphoma.

How to Live With Nocturnal Hyperhidrosis

Suffering from nocturnal hyperhidrosis doesn’t need to be a death sentence. You can still lead a comfortable life and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

You can look into options such as getting botox injections, taking anticholinergic medications, or using prescription antiperspirants containing aluminum chloride.

You can also consider the following non-medical ways to help you live with nocturnal hyperhidrosis:

Control airflow in your room at night

Maintain your bedroom at a moderate temperature. Ensure you’re neither too warm nor too cold to get a good night’s sleep.

Install a ceiling fan to provide warm or cool air throughout your room.

If you live in an apartment with central heating and air-conditioning, frequently clean your air vents. Obstructions in the air vents can reduce airflow. To allow for the best air circulation possible, keep these clean.

Open your windows to bring in the fresh air. Turning on a ceiling fan while the windows are open will help with air circulation. Place a portable fan next to the window to draw in fresh air from outside.

Exercise

Fitness concept with woman working out
Image: Freepik

It may seem counterproductive to exercise if you suffer from nocturnal hyperhidrosis. After all, exercise causes the production of excessive sweat.

However, when you exercise, you are keeping your body fit and active so it works more efficiently. Since exercise improves your metabolism, it is easier for your body to burn calories, thus staying healthy.

Also, exercise has been proven to make you feel good. This is due to the endorphins produced in the brain during each workout.

In this way, exercise helps you deal with stress. Engage in calming breathing or meditation exercises. Gentle bedtime yoga can also be effective. You can also try to focus your mind on feeling relaxed and cool.

Invest in absorbent bedding, undershirts and sleeping garments

To sleep throughout the night, buy quick-drying high tech bedding.

Research presented at the North American Menopause Society Annual Meeting showed that climate-controlling bed covers equipped with airflow helped women suffering from nocturnal hyperhidrosis achieve improvement in sleep quality and daytime functioning.

Also, avoid clothing items made from heavy fabric such as flannel or non-breathable synthetics such as polyester, rayon, spandex, and acrylic.

Instead, opt for layers that can be removed as needed in the night. These layers should be made of lightweight, breathable material that keeps moisture controlled.

Buy absorbent undershirts and sleeping garments made of micro modal fabric, which is 50% more absorbent than cotton. These will keep you dry all night.

Undershirts and boxers like those made by Sweatshield fit the bill.

Sweatshield undershirts can make the difference between waking up in a puddle of sweat and getting a refreshing night’s sleep.

Remember, if you suffer from nocturnal hyperhidrosis, visit your doctor to determine the causes and look into treatment options. And stock up on the appropriate clothing to keep you comfortable throughout the night.

Photo: Rawpixel

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