Sweat plays an important role in the body; it helps us cool down and eliminate toxins from our systems. Waking up with night sweats can often spark concern, but many different factors can cause them, one of which is alcohol withdrawal.
If you are recovering from an alcohol addiction, night sweats could be a sign of alcohol withdrawal. This is because alcohol affects the central nervous system, which is responsible for regulating our heart rhythm, body temperature, and blood pressure. This results in sweating, usually at night in the form of night sweats.
Quitting alcohol suddenly is very dangerous. If you drink heavily and have an alcohol use disorder (AUD), suddenly stopping can cause severe health complications that can be fatal. However, with the support of a medical professional, alcohol detox can be completed, and a life of sobriety can be successfully achieved.
Find out more about night sweats here, or contact us today to learn more about our alcohol addiction treatment.
What Is Alcohol Dependency?
Alcohol is a legal drug in the United States. For this reason, it is widely used to relax, have fun, and socialize. However, it can be highly addictive and is often abused.
Alcohol dependency is characterized by a physical and psychological addiction to alcohol that causes unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, such as night sweats, when leaving the body. Addiction is a disease and has a complex range of causes, such as mental health problems, behavior, genetics, family history, and environmental factors.
Alcohol addiction affects our brain chemistry. Like other illnesses, no one is to blame when an alcohol addiction arises. To destigmatize addiction, it's essential to understand that it is a disease. Unfortunately, shame, which often accompanies addiction, means that people do not seek help, which can have enormous consequences.
The terms alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency are often used to replace one another. However, they do not refer to the same thing. Both terms are now bundled together under the umbrella term alcohol use disorder (AUD), which can be mild, moderate, or severe.
Alcohol abuse generally occurs when someone misuses alcohol or uses it in a way that impacts their health and well-being. Those with mild AUDs can stop drinking alcohol when they desire without much difficulty.
Alcohol dependency or severe alcohol use disorder is different because those living with the condition will find it almost impossible to quit drinking alcohol alone. Trying to quit cold turkey can be fatal, and many uncomfortable and frightening withdrawal symptoms, including night sweats, can occur.
Why Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Develop?
The intensity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms can depend on a variety of different things, such as:
- Family history
- Mental health conditions
- Physical health
- Duration of alcohol consumption
- Amount of alcohol consumption
The reason why withdrawal symptoms develop comes down to how alcohol interacts with neurotransmitters in the brain. As alcohol is a depressant drug that works by suppressing the central nervous system, it causes relaxation, decreased inhibitions, and feelings of enjoyment.
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When consuming alcohol, the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is stimulated. GABA is responsible for feelings of calm as it inhibits certain brain signals. Over time, the body and brain will start to rely on alcohol to prompt GABA production, and without it, it will not produce enough. This is why alcohol withdrawal symptoms begin to show during addiction recovery.
Alcohol Sweats- What Is the Cause?
Alcohol is a drug that affects your whole body. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause dilated blood vessels and a faster heart rate, leading to night sweats. This widening of the blood vessels is known as vasodilation and results in sweat glands reacting by causing severe sweating.
Does Alcohol Actually Increase Body Temperature?
If you drink alcohol, you have probably experienced feeling warmer and flushed after drinking. However, drinking alcohol actually reduces body temperature because dilated blood vessels cause heat to move from the core to the skin.
As heat moves to the skin, the risk of hypothermia increases, especially if a person drinks alcohol in the wintertime or cold weather, as alcohol tricks you into feeling hot when your core actually isn't.
Night sweats are a common symptom in those with AUD who are going through withdrawal. Alcohol-induced night sweats can feel uncomfortable, but they are generally a short-term symptom. They can appear between several hours to a few days after your last drink.
Is it Possible To Sweat Alcohol Out of Your System?
Many people think that night sweats remove alcohol from their system. While this is not entirely false, the vast majority of alcohol does not leave the body through sweating. Only a small amount of alcohol leaves the body through sweat, urine, and breathing.
Alcohol is broken down in the body through the liver, which works to metabolize the substance. As the liver breaks alcohol down into byproducts, most of what you sweat out during night sweats is alcohol's byproduct, rather than alcohol itself.
As a diuretic, alcohol causes dehydration. Dehydration can cause symptoms of a hangover, so make sure to stay hydrated if you have been drinking alcohol or are completing detox and withdrawal.
What Are Some Other Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?
Alongside frequent night sweats, someone experiencing alcohol withdrawal may experience an array of other withdrawal symptoms.
The severity of withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person. The common symptoms generally begin six to 12 hours after the final drink and include:
- Feeling depressed
- Faster heart rate
- Mood swings
Some people will develop more severe withdrawal symptoms, which usually occur in those who have been drinking alcohol continuously and heavily for a long duration. The more severe withdrawal symptoms include:
- Delirium tremens (DTs)
Delirium tremens is incredibly dangerous and can be life-threatening. It can cause high blood pressure and hallucinations. Other symptoms include tremors, seizures, confusion, vomiting, and impaired consciousness. It can also result in severe night sweats.
If you are experiencing night sweats and excessive sweating alongside any other DTs symptoms, seek medical advice immediately.
Other Things That Can Cause Night Sweats
Night sweats are not necessarily the cause of alcohol withdrawal. Other things that can make you experience night sweats include:
- Menopause - women going through menopause commonly experience hot flashes
- Low blood sugar
- Alcohol intolerance
- Certain medications, such as antidepressants and steroids
Having a hot room or a hot bed does not count as hot flashes or night sweats and is not a cause for concern.
Night sweats can result from multiple factors, such as hot flashes, fever, alcohol intolerance, low blood sugar, and medication. If you experience night sweats along with other alcohol withdrawal symptoms, it could indicate that you are physically dependent on alcohol.
Night sweats are common in those going through alcohol withdrawal and, in most instances, are temporary and not a cause for concern. However, if you are experiencing night sweats along with additional symptoms of delirium tremens, you should seek medical attention immediately as this condition is potentially life-threatening.
If you drink heavily and are worried that you have an alcohol addiction, help is available. With the right support, you can beat your drinking problem. However, it's highly dangerous to attempt alcohol detox alone and without the help of medical professionals, so make sure that you speak to your doctor for guidance first.
Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), therapy, and healthy lifestyle changes, like establishing an exercise regime and healthy eating, can all help to ensure you have a successful long-term recovery.
If you experience frequent night sweats, consult a medical professional to establish whether you have a medical condition or suffer from alcohol withdrawal. A life free from alcohol use is possible and will be incredibly rewarding both now and in the future.