Night sweats in children are common and are often a direct result of environmental factors, such as too many covers or heavy pajamas. When environmental causes are the reason for night sweats in children, accommodations are easily made to help them cool down and comfortably return to sleep. According to EduBook, “If there is no environmental cause for his night sweats, and he does not have a minor illness, he should be checked by his pediatrician.”
Beyond environmental reasons for night sweats in children, there are other possible reasons why a child may wake up drenched from head to toe after sleeping; some are medical, some are not. One possibility in children 4 to 12 years of age, though rare, is that night sweats may be due to night terrors. Though truly frightening and often combined with sleep walking, night terrors do not present any danger to children. However, if a pattern develops, it may be good for parents to seek medical attention for their child.
Another reason for night sweats is infection. Effects of some bacterial and viral infections include excessive sweating associated with fever. In this case, it is important to guard against dehydration from excessive loss of body fluids. Particularly if the child has a sore throat or a cold, offering him a cool drink and providing reassurance and comfort measures may be all that is necessary to help him return to sleep for the night.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Excessive sweating that affects large areas of the body, and that occurs while awake and asleep, is likely a side effect of a drug or a sign of a disease or condition such as hyperactive thyroid.” Though usually caused by environmental factors, night sweats may also be a sign of other serious medical conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, asthma, diabetes, endocarditis, tuberculosis or cancer, including leukemia, Hodgkins or non-Hodgkins lymphoma, melanoma or liver cancer.
In addition to serious medical conditions, other less emergent medical concerns associated with night sweats in children may include autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, fibromyalgia and lupus; gastro-esophageal reflux and cerebral palsy are also possible causes. In the case of cerebral palsy, disabling medical concerns for consideration would be associated with development delay, seizures, hearing problems and movement problems.
If a child experiences excessive sweating at night, accompanied by fever, snoring or respiratory distress, then there may be significant reason for concern and you need to seek out a medical evaluation. It is also important to note that some commonly prescribed medications that may cause excessive night sweats in children include antidepressants, anti-pyretic, hormonal therapy and diabetes medications.