Symptoms of night sweats in children

Updated February 21, 2017

Night sweats can come about for many different reasons. Aside from the possibility that night sweats could be the indication of a much more serious condition, it is also possible for a child to experience dehydration due to continued night sweats.


Night sweats can be something as simple as a child wearing too many layers of clothing to bed, sleeping under too many warm blankets or sleeping in a room that is unusually warm. However, there are many instances when night sweats are the result of something more serious. When doctors are attempting to diagnose night sweats, they will start with a questions that help to eliminate the obvious causes of clothing and blankets, and they will then try to determine if the night sweats are an indication of a medical condition.

The indication that someone is suffering from night sweats is continually waking with drenched clothing and bed sheets.


Some children are capable losing up as much as 1 litre of sweat every hour they are asleep. This could be the result of hyperthyroidism, which is an overactive thyroid producing too much thyroid hormones. Night sweats are usually accompanied by fatigue, abdominal pain and unexplained weight loss when the child is experiencing hyperthyroidism.


Night sweats could be the early warning signs of cancer. Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma list night sweats as an early warning sign in adults and children. Night sweats could also result from the formation of a tumour in the liver or from the onset of malignant melanoma, which is a form of skin cancer. In many of these cases, the night sweats will occur without a fever being present in the child. If this happens, it is important to get the child to a doctor as soon as possible.


A child that has contracted tuberculosis will also show night sweats as a symptom. Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that attacks the lungs primarily, and it can spread slowly. The body's immune system is sometimes able to contain and fight the tuberculosis bacteria, but if the body starts to lose the fight, then the immune system will be unable to fight off the effects of the bacteria on the lungs and other internal organs as it spreads. One of the signs of a losing battle with tuberculosis is a high fever and night sweats.


A child displaying flu-like symptoms that include a fever and uncontrollable night sweats could be suffering from human immunodeficiency virus, more commonly known as HIV. HIV shows very few symptoms, but one of the few symptoms it does show is night sweats. Children can come into contact with HIV through blood transfusions or any other kind of injection such as a flu shot done with an improperly sterilised needle.


Other conditions that can bring on night sweats include the brain disorder cerebral palsy, autoimmune disease, which is when the child's immune system begins to attack healthy cells in the body, or gastro-oseophageal reflux disease, which is the continued pushing of stomach acid up into the oesophagus. This list is not complete, but these are some of the more common reasons for night sweats in children aside from the causes previously mentioned.

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About the Author

George N. Root III began writing professionally in 1985. His publishing credits include a weekly column in the "Lockport Union Sun and Journal" along with the "Spectrum," the "Niagara Falls Gazette," "Tonawanda News," "Watertown Daily News" and the "Buffalo News." Root has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the State University of New York, Buffalo.