Prevalence of night sweats in primary care patients: an OKPRN and TAFP-Net collaborative study. (Original Research)

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Authors: James W. Mold, Migi K. Mathew, Shuaib Belgore and Mark DeHaven
Date: May 2002
From: Journal of Family Practice(Vol. 51, Issue 5)
Publisher: Jobson Medical Information LLC
Document Type: Article
Length: 3,319 words

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* Night sweats are a common experience for primary care patients, but they are frequently not reported to their physicians.

* There appear to be 2 somewhat distinct patterns of night sweats: pure night sweats and night and day sweats.

* A history of night sweats should prompt questions about menopause, panic attacks, sleep problems, and certain medications.

* OBJECTIVE To estimate the prevalence and factors associated with night sweats among adult primary care patients.

* STUDY DESIGN This was a cross-sectional study.

* POPULATION Adult patients in 2 primary care practice-based research networks (PBRNs) during 1 week in the summer and 1 week in the winter in the years 2000 and 2001.

* OUTCOMES MEASURES We measured the prevalence of pure night sweats and night and day sweats in all patients and subgroups defined by age and sex, clinical variables associated with night sweats, and the frequency, severity, and rate of reporting.

* RESULTS Of the 2267 patients who participated, 41% reported experiencing night sweats within the last month, including 23% with pure night sweats and an additional 18% with day and night sweats. The prevalence of night sweats in both men and women was highest in the group aged 41 years to 55 years. In multivariate analyses, factors associated with pure night sweats in women were hot flashes and panic attacks; in men, sleep problems. Variables associated with night and day sweats in women were increased weight, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and use of antihistamines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and other (non-SSRI, non-tricyclic) antidepressants; in men, increased weight, hot flashes, and greater alcohol use. A majority of patients had not reported their night sweats to their physicians, even when frequent and severe.

* CONCLUSIONS Night sweats are common and under-reported. Pure night sweats and night and day sweats may have different causes. With regard to the etiologies of pure night sweats, panic attacks and sleep disorders need further investigation.

* KEYWORDS Primary care; primary-based research network; diaphoresis; epidemiology. (J Fam Pract 2002; 51:452-456)


Night sweats have been attributed to tuberculosis, other acute and chronic febrile illnesses, menopause, pregnancy, hyperthyroidism, nocturnal hypoglycemia, other endocrine problems, neurologic diseases, sleep disorders (eg, sleep apnea and nightmares), malignancies, autoimmune diseases, coronary artery spasm, congestive heart failure, gastroesophageal reflux disease, psychiatric disorders, and certain medications. In 36 medical and surgical textbooks, night sweats were always discussed within sections covering specific diseases and never as a separate topic. References to the primary literature were never provided. We also searched Micromedix, a comprehensive source of information on medications, using "sweating" and "diaphoresis" as search terms. (1) Table W1 at contains a comprehensive list of proposed causes of night sweats identified in our searches and accompanying references.

Only 2 epidemiologic studies of night sweats were found in the English language literature. Lea and Aber (2) interviewed 174 patients randomly selected from the inpatient units of a university hospital and found that 33% of nonobstetric patients and 60% of obstetric patients reported having had night sweats during the previous 3 months....

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Source Citation
Mold, James W., et al. "Prevalence of night sweats in primary care patients: an OKPRN and TAFP-Net collaborative study. (Original Research)." Journal of Family Practice, vol. 51, no. 5, May 2002, pp. 452+. Accessed 27 Sept. 2022.

Gale Document Number: GALE|A86127294