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Flu Night Sweats: How to Cope and Get Adequate Rest

23 Jan 2024

Flu night sweats are characterized by excessive sweating during sleep. It can be a disconcerting and uncomfortable experience. When these nocturnal sweating episodes are triggered by the flu or cold symptoms, they can contribute to the already miserable experience of dealing with the illness.

Here’s how to cope with these nighttime flu-related symptoms to help improve your sleep quality and recovery time.

Why Does the Flu Cause Night Sweats?

Night sweats can be unsettling, but it's a fairly common symptom of the cold and flu. The flu, caused by influenza viruses, can lead to night sweats for a few reasons:

Immune System Response

The flu often induces fever as part of the body's immune response. Fever is the body's way of fighting off the viral infection, as higher body temperatures make it harder for bacteria to survive. This elevation in body temperature during a fever can result in increased perspiration, especially during nighttime hours when the body's temperature regulation fluctuates.

As a result, you may wake up drenched in sweat due to your body's efforts to combat the flu virus.

Inflammatory Process Response

The flu can also trigger various inflammatory responses in the body. These inflammatory processes can lead to increased metabolism, which generates heat, and a heightened heart rate. In turn, this can make you feel warmer and lead to night sweats as your body works to control its temperature.

Flu-Related Symptoms

The flu often involves symptoms like congestion, coughing, and difficulty breathing, which may lead to night sweats as your body expends more energy and heightened stress during sleep.

It can also cause profound chest discomfort and restlessness, making it even more challenging to maintain a consistent body temperature throughout the night. Frequently waking up, changes in sleep patterns, and the stress that goes hand in hand with illnesses that contribute to flu night sweats.

Is it Normal to Sweat at Night with the Flu?

Yes, it is relatively common to experience night sweats when you have the flu. Flu night sweats can often lead to the point where you wake up drenched in perspiration. While this can be alarming, night sweats are typically a normal part of the body’s response to the flu.

It is caused by several factors including your body temperature being raised due to fever, and the inflammatory responses within your body that are brought on by the flu virus.

What Causes Cold Sweats?

When your body is battling an infection, it can react by increasing your body temperature, resulting in a fever. In response to this elevated temperature, your sweat glands may become more active, causing you to sweat.

Flu night sweats can feel cold when they come into contact with your skin, giving you chills, and leading to what we commonly refer to as cold sweats. This condition can be particularly noticeable when dealing with the flu. It often leads to fevers, chills, and cold sweats as the body strives to regulate its temperature.

Cold sweats can serve as an indication of your body's immune response when facing infections like the flu. They typically occur when your body is fighting off the infection and are part of the body's natural cooling mechanism. It's important to rest, stay hydrated, and consult with your doctor if your symptoms persist or worsen.

Other conditions that may cause cold sweats include low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), menopause, and various anxiety disorders.

How to Relieve Night Sweats Associated with the Flu

Regulate Room Temperature

To mitigate flu night sweats, create a comfortable sleep environment. Make sure your bedroom is at a cool and consistent temperature. Lightweight, breathable bedding and adjusting the thermostat or using a fan can help you create a comfortable sleep environment, which will reduce the risk of overheating and night sweats.

Keep Hydrated

Dehydration can worsen night sweats, so stay well-hydrated when you have the flu. Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the hours leading up to bedtime, as they can promote sweating. Instead, focus on drinking water and herbal teas to help regulate your body temperature and improve hydration.

Wear Appropriate Sleepwear

Opt for moisture-wicking sleepwear made from breathable materials like cotton. These fabrics can draw moisture away from your skin, keeping you drier during the night. Avoid heavy or synthetic materials that trap heat and moisture, because they can exacerbate night sweats.

Address Your Flu Symptoms

To alleviate night sweats associated with the flu, it's important to manage the underlying illness.Mucinex® Maximum Strength Fast-Max® Cold & Flu (All-in-One) Liquid Gels relieve up to nine symptoms including reducing fever, cough, and chest congestion.

Have a Comfortable Sleep Surface

Use a mattress and pillows that are comfortable and supportive. A restful sleep surface can help minimize disturbances and promote a better night's sleep, even when you’re dealing with flu-related night sweats.

When Should You See a Doctor for Night Sweats?

Experiencing occasional night sweats is common and typically not a cause for alarm. However, there are circumstances when you should consider seeing a doctor for flu night sweats, as they can sometimes indicate underlying medical conditions that require attention.

Frequent and Persistent Night Sweats

If you’re experiencing night sweats on a frequent and persistent basis, it’s generally recommended to contact your doctor. Night sweats that interrupt your sleep and occur several nights a week could be a sign of an underlying issue, such as hormonal imbalances, bacterial infections, or certain medical conditions.

Accompanying Symptoms

If your night sweats are accompanied by other symptoms like unexplained weight loss, fever, fatigue, or changes in appetite, seek medical advice. These other symptoms can be indicative of underlying health conditions, including infections, autoimmune disorders, or even certain types of cancer.

Risk Factors and Medical History

Your risk factors and medical history play a crucial role in determining when to consult a doctor for night sweats. For instance, if you have a family history of certain medical conditions like low blood sugar or taking medications known to cause night sweats, you should discuss these factors with your healthcare provider.

They can help determine whether your night sweats are linked to any specific conditions and recommend appropriate tests or treatments.

Is Sweating Good When You Have the Flu?

Fighting Off Infection

Sweating can be a positive sign when you have the flu. When your body is fighting off an infection like the flu, it naturally raises its core temperature to create an environment that is less conducive to virus growth. This increase in body temperature, which results in a fever, is a part of your body's defense mechanism.

Body Temperature Regulation

Sweating is one way your body works to cool itself down when your temperature rises during a fever. It can help regulate your body's temperature, making sure it stays within a healthy range.

But, it's important to strike a balance. While some sweating can be beneficial, excessive sweating and dehydration can be a problem when you have the flu. Stay well-hydrated and monitor your symptoms. If you find yourself sweating excessively and becoming dehydrated, talk with your doctor about your symptoms.

In most cases, sweating is a sign that your body is actively working to combat the flu virus, but it's important to support your body with enough hydration and rest during this time.

By implementing these strategies, you can help relieve flu night sweats, making your sleep more comfortable and aiding in your recovery.

  1. UPMC (2022), Cold Sweats: Is It the Cold or Flu?
  2. UPMC (2022), How to Treat Cold Sweats
  3. John Hopkins Medicine (2023), Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)
  4. Cleveland Clinic (2022), Night Sweats
  5. Houston Methodist (2020), Night Sweats: 7 Reasons You May Be Sweating at Night
  6. Temple Health (2023), Autoimmune Diseases
  7. National Cancer Institute (2021), Hot Flashes and Night Sweats (PDQ®)–Patient Version
  8. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2022), Flu Symptoms and Complications
  9. MedlinePlus (2022), Fever

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