Sweating is heavy perspiration that can happen at night or even when the room is cool. There may be enough to soak your clothes. Such sweating is common when a fever breaks. You may notice that you sweat a lot a short time after shaking chills. (See the section called “ Fever.”)
What to look for
- Feeling wet or damp during the night or waking up to find sheets damp
- Fever followed by heavy sweating as the body temperature goes back down
- Shaking chills
- Drenching sweats even when there’s no fever
What the patient can do
- Take medicine to reduce fever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), if you’ve been told to do so.
- Dress in 2 layers of clothing. The layer on the inside will act as a wick to pull moisture up and away from the skin.
- Change wet clothes as soon as you can.
- Keep your bed linens dry.
- If you’re sweating a lot, bathe at least once a day to soothe your skin and for good hygiene.
What caregivers can do
- Help the patient keep clothes and bed linens dry.
- Check the patient’s temperature by mouth a few times a day and in the evening.
- Offer extra liquids to replace the fluid that’s lost through sweat.
- Offer to help the patient with a tub bath or shower if needed.
Call the cancer team if the patient:
- Becomes dehydrated from frequent soaking sweats (See the section called “ Fluids (lack of) and dehydration.”)
- Has fever of 100.5° F or higher (when taken by mouth) for more than 24 hours
- Has tremors or shaking chills
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Last Medical Review: June 8, 2015 Last Revised: June 8, 2015