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Night Sweats- at what point do you worry?
Feb 17, 2002

At what point do you think as a doctor that night sweats are a sign of a terrible problem? I have been "under the weather" with fever, cough, hoarseness, congestion, NIGHT SWEATS(usually about my neck, shoulders and head) etc. I am obsessed with the fact this could be the beginning of AIDS...I have never been tested and have always had sex safe, but am consumed with worry and panic. I have not had ANY sex in over two years

Response from Dr. Dezube

You ask an appropriate question in that night sweats can be a sign of transient viral infection (i.e. nothing to worry about) or a sign of a more serious illness (e.g., lymphoma, HIV infection, or something else). The majority of folks who experience night sweats have NOTHING worrisome. In these folks, the night sweats tend to resolve after a few weeks. What worries us most about night sweats if when they go on week after week with no sense of letting up. Also we get concerned if the night sweats are associated with other symptoms such as fatigue, fever and weight loss. All these symptoms should prompt you to see your health care provider. It's important for me to define what exactly is meant by night sweats. Night sweats usually refers to profuse sweating at nights, profuse enough to make one change their sleep-wear. Obviously there are many, many less worrisome causes of night sweats, which include women going through menopause, and the more trivial situation such as a broken air conditioner. So in summary, doctors worry about night sweats when they are long-term and when they are associated with other symptoms.

If you are obsessed with HIV infection, then go and get tested. Knowledge is power. A negative test would provide much in the way of reassurance. If you were to have a positive test, well them you would at least know what is going on.


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