What's making women over 40 sweat?

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

HOUSTON - If you're a female 40-yeard-old or older and your sheets are drenched when you wake up or you think you're feeling a hot flash, it could be “the change,” but UT Health endocrinologist Dr. Kelly Wirfel said it could also be a number of other health issues.

For example, a bacterial infection.

“Certainly have to worry about infections and we've had some recent cases of TB and that's a common presentation with fever, sweats, weight loss, cough, those sorts of things,” Dr. Wirfel said. “Infections may have similar fast heart rates and, less commonly palpitations, which will have fevers and chills and those other sorts of things. So, common grouping of symptoms that help us decide where to go with that.”

While she's ruling out serious illness, she said doctors consider that sweating can also be a sign of cancer.

“You know we'll ask about the night sweats, the weight loss, the change in appetite, swelling in the neck, under the arms, the lymph node swelling, suggestive of a lymphoma so those are some classic symptoms that come along with some of those with the lymphomas,” Wirfel said.

Keep in mind, she said, a lot of other symptoms could lead you to those problems first.

On the other hand, thyroid disease has subtle symptoms and sweating is one of them.

“From thyroid standpoint, we also look for other things like heart palpitations, a goiter, weight loss, and a lot of other symptoms that can go along with that problem,” she said.

Sweating can also increase in diabetic patients using insulin and sweating can be a sign of sleep apnea.

Although sleep apnea is more common in men, sleep experts say chances of the disorder increase in women after menopause.

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