Night sweats can be a symptom of both early and late HIV infection. But as there can be many other causes of night sweats, their presence on their own does not indicate that a person is HIV positive.
Night sweats -- otherwise known as nocturnal hyperhidrosis -- are characterized by profuse, drenching perspiration with no apparent cause. They may require the person to change their bed linen or pajamas.
The many non-HIV related causes of night sweats include the menopause, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, pregnancy, cancers, sleep apnea, other sleep disorders and excessive alcohol consumption.
In the first few weeks of HIV infection the immune system attempts to mount a defense. That defense can cause many people to briefly have symptoms that may include a sore throat, muscle or joint aches and pains, rashes, chills, headaches, feeling generally unwell, mouth ulcers, weight loss, tiredness, swollen glands -- or night sweats.
Night sweats can also be a symptom of late HIV infection, when someone has had HIV for several years, has not received treatment, has a severely weakened immune system and a CD4 cell count below 200. At this stage, HIV-associated infections such as Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC), cytomegalovirus (CMV) and tuberculosis (TB) can result in night sweats. These infections are unlikely if a person is taking HIV treatment.
More on Night Sweats at TheBody.com
To find out more about the symptoms of HIV infection, we recommend this article:
In addition, our Q&A experts sometimes address questions about night sweats in our "Ask the Experts" forums. Here are some of those questions and our experts' responses:
- Night sweats
Although I occasionally had night sweats when I seroconverted to HIV, they went away. Since I started antiretroviral medication, I am having night sweats every night. Are they a side-effect? Will they go away?
- Night Sweats and Protected Sex
I am having night sweats some nights and am feeling very anxious about this. I have had casual sex in the past several months but it was protected. I have had NO rash, fever, swollen glands.
- Night sweats paranoia
I had sex with a masseuse in Canada two years ago. I haven't had any symptoms but recently I've felt anxiety and stress, and started getting minor night sweats -- not soaking ones. I am freaking out.
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