If you sweat at night, it could be a sign of this devastating disease

Medical professionals say that people who suffer from night sweats may be afflicted by the early stages of leukemia, especially if they’re over 65.

But I have night sweats!

Don’t worry yet — many night sweats are normal and nothing to worry about. Even if you’re soaking through your sheets and pillows, it may just be a sign that your body is going through normal changes. In particular, women over 45 are especially more likely to experience night sweats if they’re in the beginning stages of menopause.

Night sweats can also be linked to pregnancy or hormone disorders that would trigger your endocrine system to overreact. Additionally, one can get night sweats from anxiety, as spikes in cortisol levels can cause one to sweat profusely during the day or night.

Another reason for night sweats is alcohol. Alcohol can widen blood vessels and increase your heart rate, all of which lead to sweating. Medications can also cause sweating at night, and some antidepressants, hormone therapy for cancers or thyroid issues, and drugs that help modulate blood sugar can cause excessive sweating.

The last banal reason you might be sweating at night is that you could just be a sweaty person. This is a condition called idiopathic hyperhidrosis.

If you find yourself sweating at night, however, and you aren’t satisfied with the notion that you could just be a perspiring person, you should check with a doctor to make sure it’s not something more serious.

When it might be leukemia

While some night sweats are normal, others are not, especially if you’re just experiencing them for the first time at the age of 65 or older. If you’re soaking your sheets every single night, that could also be a sign that something is wrong, and you shouldn’t ignore the problem. A 2015 study on leukemia from the British Journal of Cancer found that many leukemia patients noticed the onset of symptoms within the first three months but chose not to act on them. While it didn’t impact their treatment in this particular study, it certainly could have if ignored for long enough.

That being said, though Cancer Research UK reports that cancers like non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, mesothelioma, bone cancer, and liver cancer all cause sweating, that’s not all they cause. You’re more likely to have hidden leukemia if you have other symptoms that appear in tandem with your night sweats.

The reason leukemia in particular would cause you to sweat at night is complicated. Either you could be experiencing a hormone change due to cancer itself, or your body could be attempting to fight off infections due to your weakened immune system.

If you have sudden, unexplained night sweats, you should be on the lookout for fevers, unexplained or unintentional weight loss, a decrease in appetite, and general fatigue. You could also have joint pain or weakness, get infections often, bruise or bleed easily, and have swollen, bulbous lymph nodes.

The takeaway

If you’re having sudden, unexplained night sweats, chances are low that you really do have a horrible form of cancer. But nothing is guaranteed, and even if you believe that your night sweats are hormonal, your best option is to have a doctor verify or disprove that claim.

While it might seem silly to go to the doctor over something as innocuous as night sweats, it could save your life. If you’re experiencing any other symptoms in addition to your perspiration, or if it came on suddenly and overwhelmingly, you should consult a medical professional to find out the root of the issue.