Night Sweats and Cough

Night sweats and a cough can often occur concurrently. Night sweats are defined as heavy sweats occurring at night or during sleep, without the influence of external factors like heavy blankets or a hot bedroom. These sweats are often described as being “drenching,” to the point that the bedding and night clothes are often soaked through. Coughing is more straightforward, as it is frequently experienced as the body responds to irritants in the airways by coughing to expel them. 

A cough generally occurs due to an infection or chronic condition. Frequently these infections or diseases causing the cough will cause other symptoms, such as fevers, chills, and excessive sweating/night sweats. The following conditions generally cause these symptoms:
  • Common colds
  • Pneumonia
  • Acute bronchitis
  • Emphysema

You should contact your primary caregiver if any of these conditions are suspected. 

The common cold results from a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, which consists of the nose and throat. The symptoms stemming from a common cold begin just a day after exposure. A cough and night sweats frequently occur with the common cold. The cough stems from mucus that drips down your nose to your throat, which results in a cough. When sickness occurs due to a viral infection, a fever occurs because the body’s internal temperature rises to fight the infection. This fever causes excessive sweating, including night sweats. The other cold symptoms vary but often consist of the following: sneezing, body aches, headache, sore throat, and a runny or stuffy nose.

Pneumonia is the infection of air sacs in either one or both lungs. The sacs can fill with either pus or fluid, which causes a phlegm or pus-producing cough. Night sweats occur for the same reason as they do with the common cold- to fight off infection. The other symptoms of pneumonia are as follows: chest pain from breathing or coughing, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Acute bronchitis is also called a “chest cold” and is brought on by lung swelling and mucus production in the lungs. Night sweats due to a fever and coughing due to the mucus in the lungs are common symptoms. Other bronchitis symptoms include soreness in the chest, sore throat, body aches, fatigue, and a headache. Bronchitis typically lasts less than three weeks and will resolve by itself.      

Emphysema occurs when the tiny air sacs of the lungs are damaged, which causes them to rupture and create large air spaces. This reduces the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream and causes shortness of breath. The shortness of breath starts slowly, barely noticeable until the trouble breathing becomes apparent even while at rest. Emphysema, combined with chronic bronchitis, causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), most commonly caused by smoking. COPD treatment can slow the progression of the disease but can never reverse COPD. Night sweats and coughing frequently occurs with advanced emphysema and COPD. 

Night sweats can make sleeping very difficult, but various external factors can relieve the symptoms. Lighter comforters and fans can be helpful, but the best item for night sweats is the Bedfan, which blows air under the covers and across the body. 

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