While night sweats in children is usually not something to be overly concerned about, you should still remain attentive to the frequency and severity of this excessive sweating. Most cases of night sweats in children occur because of an environmental factor like too many blankets or sleeping in a room that is too warm. That said, if environmental causes have been ruled out, there may be a medical reason for sweating while sleeping and a trip to your pediatrician may be in order.
Common Causes of Night Sweating in Children
There are a few common causes of night sweats in children, but in most cases this sweating during sleep isn’t anything to be too concerned about unless there are other symptoms present.
Kids often experience night sweating more than adults because they spend more time in a deep sleep, and deep sleep in children tends to cause more night sweating. Their temperature regulating systems are not as mature and developed yet and they have a proportionally high amount of sweat glands for their body size. These things together are often the cause of night sweats children experience.
While most of the time night sweating in children is harmless, it is not my intention to make you less vigilant about addressing any health concerns. You should always discuss any health matter with a medical professional. I know it might be tempting to just hit the internet and try to diagnose matters yourself, but no matter how detailed or convincing a site is, you should always seek personal, professional attention in addition to empowering yourself with greater knowledge in a particular area.
Environmental Causes of Night Sweats In Children
The most common reason for night sweats in women, men and children is environmental. Too heavy or too many blankets, bedclothes and a thermostat set too high are all common reasons why people experience sweating while sleeping. Opt for natural fibers such as cotton and linen, try lighter pajamas, remove a few blankets and/or turn down the temperature. If, after a few nights your child is still suffering from sweating at night, you may wish to investigate medical reasons. It isn’t uncommon for excessive night sweats in children to occur in kids wearing pajamas known as footies, where the pajamas have feet.
You can read more about choosing appropriate bedding for treating sleep hyperhidrosis in my article on night sweats bedding. While my night sweats sleepwear probably targets menopausal women more than children, you might some helpful tips there as well.
Common Infections Among Children
Viral or bacterial infections can often cause night sweats in men and women as well as in children. With children, however, low grade fevers associated with childhood colds are more common and can often lead to sweating while sleeping. Common culprits in this realm include ear infections, strep (Streptococcal pharyngitis), bronchitis or sinus infections.
Severe night sweating may indicate Tuberculosis (TB). A common symptom of Tuberculosis, an infectious disease often affecting the lungs, is sweating while asleep. TB can weaken your child’s immune system, making him or her more susceptible to other bacteria.
Certain common medications given to children to help them keep their fever down may also cause night sweating. Tylenol, or children’s tylenol, is acetaminophen, which is an antipyretic. All antipyretic medications may trigger perspiration when the child’s fever begins to drop.
Hyperthyroidism In Children
Hyperthyroidism may cause sleep hyperhidrosis in children. This means your child’s little body is producing too many thyroid hormones. If your child has been experiencing weight loss and unusual fatigue or lethargy, hyperthyroidism may be a possibility.
Low Blood Sugar and Early Diabetes Symptoms
Another common medical problem which may cause your child to sweat at night is diabetes. Night sweats and diabetes, particularly Type 1 Diabetes, have often been associated with one another.
If your child wakes in the middle of the night with excessive sweating and it is accompanied by extreme hunger, trembling, and a sense of anxiety you may want to ask your doctor to test your child for diabetes. Before you panic, keep in mind it could also be low blood sugar without full-blown Diabetes. Hypoglycemia, though less common among children except as a side-effect of medications, could also be the culprit. If your child is experiencing excessive night sweats, discuss the possibility of diabetes or low blood sugar with your pediatrician.
Night Terrors In Children
Many children between the ages of 4 and 8 experience disturbing dreams that leave them drenched from cold sweats while sleeping. Most children outgrow night terrors and, although stressful, they are not a health risk to children. If your child suffers from regular night terrors, you may wish to speak to your doctor about ways of easing this troubling childhood sleep disorder.
Other Medical Conditions May Cause Drenching Night Sweats In Children
There are a number of other serious medical conditions that may manifest symptoms of night sweats in children. Please try not to panic when you read this list as I don’t mean to suggest that they’re common. However, if you rule out other causes and your child still experiences excessive sweating while asleep, your child’s pediatrician may need to investigate some of these possibilities. These illnesses include the following (clicking on any of these will take you to high authority sites on the topic for your reference):
Perhaps the most serious underlying condition that may lead to severe night sweating is cancer. This is rare, so don’t panic, but nocturnal hyperhidrosis can be an early symptom of various cancers, in particular lymphoma or Hodgkin’s disease. The kind of night sweats cancer causes often involves sudden, severe perspiration. This is one of the first lymphoma symptoms an oncologist will look for when diagnosing this condition.
That said, most of these other conditions would have additional symptoms besides sweating at night. Additionally, your child could develop symptoms of primary hyperhidrosis. Basically, this means that he or she sweats excessively with no medical explanation. You can read more about this in my sleep hyperhidrosis article.
Night sweats in children causes can include hundreds of underlying illnesses, but rest assured that in most cases they will occur as a result of environmental factors or common childhood infections.
Treating Night Sweats In Children
Besides determining the causes of night sweats in kids, you will want to help your child achieve more restful sleep as soon as you can. Be sure to thoroughly assess their sleep environment and make certain your child isn’t engaging in particularly rambunctious activity right before bed. You should also watch their diet during the evening hours. Fatty foods and foods with traces of caffeine or sugar should be avoided before bed.
For some more comprehensive guides to treating sweating while sleeping, including many inexpensive and safe remedies, read my guides on simple night sweats relief and more comprehensive night sweats treatment.
It can be challenging when a child sweats while sleeping. It’s uncomfortable to be awoken from a sleep, and to be awoken completely drenched just adds to that discomfort. When a child has disrupted sleep, it generally means the adults in the household do as well. If you’re concerned about night sweats in your child, first verify that the excessive perspiration is not being caused by environmental factors or a childhood cold. Once you’ve ruled out those two possibilities, and particularly if other symptoms are present, you may want to check with your physician or pediatrician to determine the cause of this particular case of night sweats in children, even if for no reason other than peace of mind.