Night sweats accompanied by severe, unexplained weight loss are distressing symptoms that may signal a serious disorder, according to the American Association of Family Physicians. The cause can be an infectious disease, a hormonal disorder or certain cancers. People experiencing night sweats accompanied by severe weight loss should seek a medical evaluation as quickly as possible.
HIV/AIDS is a contagious disease that damages cells of the immune system, leaving the sufferer unable to fight infections. The HIV virus is found in blood, semen and vaginal fluid, and is most commonly spread through unprotected sex or shared needles and syringes. The early stage of HIV may cause brief flu-like symptoms, followed by up to 10 symptom-free years. In the more advanced stage, drenching night sweats and severe, unexplained weight loss are common. Sufferers may also experience fevers, severe fatigue, swelling of the lymph glands, diarrhea, memory loss, and red or purplish blotches on the skin, according to the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Tuberculosis, or TB, is a serious infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs, but can affect any organ in the body. It is spread through droplets in the air from when an infected person speaks or coughs. Typically, close and prolonged contact with an infected person is required to spread the disease, explains MayoClinic.com. Soaking night sweats, unexplained weight loss, fever and chills are common symptoms. A cough that produces thick, sometimes bloody mucus, and chest pain typically occur when tuberculosis affects the lungs. Other symptoms depend on the affected organ, such as back pain when tuberculosis occurs in the spine.
Hodgkins lymphoma is a cancer of cells in the immune system called lymphocytes. Signs of Hodgkins lymphoma commonly include enlarged lymph glands in the neck, underarms or groin, drenching night sweats and unexplained weight loss, says the National Cancer Institute. Fever, itchy skin, pain in the lymph glands after drinking alcohol, coughing and fatigue are also typical. The cancerous cells can spread and invade other organs in the body, such as the liver, bones, lungs and bone marrow. Treatment depends on the stage, or extent, of the disease when it is diagnosed. Treatments can include chemotherapy, radiation and stem cell transplantation.