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September 20, 2001


Question from :

I suffer from a somewhat unusual and almost completely misunderstood malady called "night sweats". From what I have been able to find on the web, approximately 2% of all people with diabetes have this condition, which is characterized by heavy sweating from the head and neck during sleep. On a usual night, I will use up at least six full-size towels and six T-shirts because of the sweat. I'm anxious to find more information on this topic. Have you ever come across a reference to this?


The “night sweats” described are characteristic of unrecognized hypoglycemia that is occurring during sleep. This is very important to recognize and treat for a couple of reasons:

It is often associated with rebound hyperglycemia in the morning, may lead the doctor or patient to increase the insulin delivery and or dose which is opposite of what is needed to control the diabetes optimally.
It can be associated with loss of consciousness if the hypoglycemia becomes sufficiently profound.

It is urgent that the night sweats be dealt with. It is not clear what your insulin regimen is, and it is possible that short, intermediate, or long acting insulin needs to be decreased either in the day or evening. While it is not possible to make a specific recommendation for insulin management., a general recommendation would be that the insulin acting during the night be decreased promptly, and the regimen needs to be adjusted carefully. If necessary, [you may work with your doctor to] set an alarm clock for 3-4 am to check blood sugars at night if hypoglycemia is still occurring after decreasing and or adjusting you insulin regimen.


[Editor’s comment: If you search the Diabetes Team questions at this website, you’ll find several previous answers to questions about “night sweats”.