Does alcohol cause night sweating?

Although there are other causes of night sweats, drinking alcohol could worsen the problem. Photo by Rachel Mabala.

What you need to know:

Taking alcohol causes expansion of blood vessels to the skin, increasing sweating. However, there are other causes of excessive perspiration.

Dear Doctor:I drink one beer everyday but why is this followed by excessive sweating which almost drowns my pillow?


Dear Kakaire: When one takes alcohol, the blood vessels to the skin get dilated (peripheral vasodilatation). This makes more blood available to the skin and the sweat glands, increasing formation of sweat and sweating.
Also, skin vasodilatation causes one to feel warm and since sweating is one of the body’s ways of cooling itself, one ends up sweating more.

The fact that sweat does not easily evaporate off skin leads to persistent wetness.
Sleep hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating during sleep may occur in many people regardless of whether they have taken alcohol or not. The harmless night sweating results from the fact that during sleep, we are not very active and do not require much energy which our bodies give off as heat. The body’s temperature is lowest at around 4am.

Night sweating may have other causes but could be worsened by alcohol. Thus, other potential causes such as fevers due to tuberculosis or use of painkillers, menopause or pregnancy have to be ruled out first before declaring the sweating harmless.

Dear Doctor: I am suffering from hypotension. I am told this is worse than (high blood) pressure and drinking coffee has not helped.

Dear Rukaali: Hypotension refers to blood pressure which is less than normal. 90/60mmhg is the lowest normal and 130/85 the highest normal.
Low blood pressure is significant if it is due to another condition such as overdosing with hypertension drugs, a heart or nutritional condition. Hypotension may be a blessing since this kind of pressure does not put a strain on the heart hence reducing the likelihood of heart disease.

Even when one suffers symptoms of digestive disturbances, dizziness, weakness, headache, shortness of breath or failure to concentrate, if they find they have hypotension, this should be taken as a blessing and left alone unless it is due to another condition or disease. Correcting the condition is what will make you feel better. Taking Caffeine to increase your pressure is sacrilegious to your health and should be stopped in favour of proper diet, exercise and a balanced diet.

Dear Doctor: I am 60 years old but with erection problems due to diabetes. The doctor prescribed for me viagra but I refused to take it due to reports of people being found dead in bed after using it. Were these people found with an erection? How can one know death was due to viagra and is it safe to take viagra?

Dear LCM: Diabetes is a condition whereby there is too much sugar in the blood. Aside from making a man too sick to think of sex, diabetes may also cause candida wounds on (especially) an uncircumcised penis.
It may damage nerves and also lead to blockage of blood vessels to the penis resulting in erection problems. The condition is also associated with low testosterone levels affecting sexual appetite and erections as well.

Viagra is approved for the treatment of men who have difficulty having and or maintaining an erection provided they can get sexually stimulated. The drug can also be used at a lower strength for pressure in the lung blood vessels (pulmonary hypertension) and by mountain climbers to avoid mountain sickness.
In Uganda, the drug is increasingly being self-prescribed by young men, senior citizens and even women for recreational purposes purportedly to increase sexual vigour.

Unfortunately, when taken together with alcohol or other substances one may risk adverse effects.
Seemingly healthy people can be found dead in bed. Not every death in bed is due to Viagra. A death erection, (angel lust), is an erection that happens with or after death especially if one died violently such as from execution, particularly by hanging. Not every dead person with an erection can be assumed to have been engaged in sex after using viagra.

Viagra has potentially serious side effects and one should seek a doctor’s advice before one embarks on using it.
Some of the side effects are mild and unless one uses high doses, the effects are not permanent. These effects include headache, upset stomach, blurred vision or seeing blue.
If one is on drugs (nitrates) for heart pain (angina pectoris) or has had a heart attack or stroke, he is likely to suffer fatal side effects if he takes the drug and as such, should inform the doctor before the drug is prescribed.

Sex is a physical and mental exercise which, in a few cases, can tax the heart into failure and when death occurs, it may not necessarily be due to viagra. It is advisable for everyone especially senior citizens to go for annual medical checkups to lessen the risk of exertion-related problems including worsening heart problems that could lead to death from sexual action.
Erection problems in young people may be due to psychological issues and these do not require Viagra but senior citizens usually have erection problems related to other conditions including diabetes which may have to be controlled first and if this does not help, then a doctor can be consulted. If you have further concerns, please tell your doctor about them.

Doctor’S word
“Sex is a physical and mental exercise which, in a few cases, can tax the heart into failure and when death occurs, it may not necessarily be due to viagra. It is advisable for everyone especially senior citizens to go for annual medical checkups to lessen the risk of exertion-related problems.”

Dr Vincent Karuhanga