Little-known symptom that doctors say could be a sign of cancer: It shows up on sheets and pillows every morning
As record temperatures sweep across the United States, it can be easy to overlook night sweats.
However, in some very rare cases, excessive sweating that soaks through your sheets and pillows could be an early sign of cancer, experts say.
Night sweats are heavy sweating severe enough to soak through clothing or bedding and can even wake you up throughout the night.
While usually not a cause for concern, they could be an early symptom of several types of cancer, including leukemia, lymphoma, bone cancer, liver cancer, mesothelioma, and carcinoid tumors.
Night sweats are not usually a cause for concern, especially during the summer. Taking a cold shower before bed or turning on a fan might reduce the chance of getting this uncomfortable feeling.
It’s not clear exactly why this happens, but it could be a sign that the body is trying to fight cancer, as well as hormonal changes.
Also, cancer can cause a fever in some cases, causing the body to sweat excessively to cool down.
This can also happen if you are receiving treatment for cancer.
Cancer patients can get hot flashes and night sweats due to surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and when taking certain medications, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).
Signs to look out for, according to the ACS, include feeling unusually hot in one or more areas of the body, having wet or clammy skin at any time of the day, waking up with damp sheets, chills, and drenched sweat even when not you are in a hot zone.
However, most of the time, night sweats are not a sign of cancer, especially during a heat wave or if you are more prone to sweating. More commonly, night sweats can be a sign of hormonal changes from menopause or pregnancy, low blood sugar, certain medications, or stress.
Even exercising close to bedtime, drinking alcohol, or eating spicy foods before going to sleep can lead to night sweats.
Cancer night sweats tend to be more persistent and accompanied by fever, while those from menopause or more common causes only occur occasionally. In cancer patients, this often occurs along with symptoms such as fatigue and unexplained weight loss.
To treat night sweats caused by cancer treatment, the ACS recommends talking with your doctor about taking fever-reducing medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). Losing weight and exercising may also reduce the chance of night sweats in some patients.
If you suffer from night sweats, consider cooling your body with a cool shower or turning on the air conditioner or a fan before bed. Certain bedding materials, such as cotton or linen, also shed moisture better than heavier materials.