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Night Sweats In Children: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

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Sweating at night is common among children, especially when the temperature is warm or the night clothes are heavy. But if the child sweats excessively and soaks their clothes, then it may concern the parent.

Night sweats or sleep hyperhidrosis among children is mostly harmless. But in some cases, it could be due to an underlying health condition. In this MomJunction post, we tell you about the possible causes for night sweats in children and give some relief tips.

Possible Causes Of Night Sweats In Children And Teens

There are numerous reasons behind the occurrence of night sweats in children. Here we have listed a few possible reasons, besides excess clothing and heat that might cause night sweats in children.

  1. Sleep apnea: Nocturnal sweating or night sweats is one of the symptoms reported in children experiencing sleep apnea. A study has found three times more nocturnal sweating in people with obstructive sleep apnea than in the general population (1).
  1. Infections: Bacterial infections could also cause night sweats in children. According to the University of Rochester, night sweats could be a symptom of bacterial endocarditis (infection in the heart’s lining) (2). Nocturnal sweat is also among the symptoms of tuberculosis in children (3).
  1. Medications: Certain medications such as antipyretics, antihypertensives, and others may cause night sweating in adults (4). However, it is not known if these medicines cause night sweating among children.
  1. Other conditions: Some other conditions that may cause night sweats are gastroesophageal reflux diseases, hyperthyroidism, immunodeficiency, and hypoglycemia (4). But there is inadequate research to connect these conditions to sweating at night.

While night sweating itself is a symptom of some health condition, there could be other symptoms to indicate that the child is unwell. 

Symptoms And Diagnosis Of Night Sweats In Children 

Along with night sweating, some children may have symptoms such as a fever, cough, discomfort while sleeping, and breathing issues. If these prolong for a long while, then take your child to the doctor. A physician can diagnose the cause of night sweats based on the child’s medical history, physical examination, and overall health.

Parents can take some measures at home to make a child with night sweats feel comfortable.

How To Help Your Child Deal With Night Sweat?

The following steps may help the child feel better and stop the night sweating.

  • Keep the temperature of the room cooler. You may switch on the fan or keep the windows open.
  • You may keep an ice pack under the pillow of your child if the weather is hot.
  • A cold shower before sleeping may help.
  • Drinking cold water can keep the body hydrated and may help maintain body temperature.
  • Avoiding spicy food before sleeping may help maintain body temperature.
  • Apply a wet cloth on the forehead of the child during the night.
  • You may get a cool mattress for your child and replace heavy bed sheets and comforters with light ones.

If the child seems unwell or the night sweating continues to be in excess, then consult a physician.

In the next section, we address a few common questions asked about night sweating in children. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does cancer cause night sweats in children?

Some types of cancers might cause night sweats. For instance, night sweats are among the symptoms of Hodgkin’s disease and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, both types of cancer (5). Do note there are several other significant symptoms of cancer, and the occurrence of night sweats alone does not point to cancer.

2. Does childhood leukemia cause night sweats?

Night sweats are among the symptoms of childhood leukemia but are not the only symptom of the condition (6) Some other more prominent signs include irritability, weakness, weight loss, frequent infections, unusual bleeding, and lumps in certain parts of the body.

3. Does anxiety cause night sweats?

According to Harvard Health Publishing, sweating is among the symptoms of anxiety in children (7). However, it is not known if sweating includes night sweats. There are no studies that connect children’s anxiety to night sweats.

Don’t worry if your child is sweating during the night unless there are other accompanying symptoms. However, if the condition is not under control even after trying specific tips, then a doctor would help you know the right cause and provide suitable treatment.

Do you have any more relief tips for night sweats in children? Share them with us in the comment section below.

References:

1. E. S. Arnardottir et al.; Nocturnal sweating – a common symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea: the Icelandic sleep apnoea cohort; Royal College of Physicians
2. Bacterial Endocarditis in Children; University of Rochester
3. Tuberculosis Symptoms & Causes; Boston Children’s Hospital
4. A. J. Viera, M. M. Bond, and S. W Yates; Diagnosing night sweats; American Family Physician (2003)
5. Symptoms of Childhood Cancers; healthychildren.org
6. Childhood Leukemias; American Childhood Cancer Organization
7. F. Coltrera; Anxiety in Children; Harvard Health Publishing (2018)

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