On a number of levels this is not a pleasant thing to write about but sweating excessively at night and/or during the day is a fact of life for many although not all people suffering CRPS. And we’re not talking about a sweaty CRPS affected limb here; we’re talking full-body sweats.
Of course, some of the more usual methods for cooling down are simply not options to be recommended to those suffering CRPS. Taking a very cold bath or shower may do far more harm than good and allodynia means that something as simple as switching on a fan can take levels of pain through the roof.
I asked two of our clients with CRPS, Sarah and Philip (not their real names), if they would mind sharing their experiences and how they cope.
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“It’s not every night that it’s a problem, but when I do sweat, I SWEAT! And it is at night time that it happens, I rarely sweat a lot during the day. My doctor was concerned about my blood pressure and although it is slightly raised, it doesn’t seem any worse at night than it is in the day.
“It usually seems to coincide with flare ups in the pain but the odd thing is that although I can be in bed much of the day at these times, the sweating only really starts at night. When it happens it’s really horrible. The bedding is sodden so you can imagine the state of my pyjamas!
“On occasions I’ve just got into the shower and turned it on. I start off body temperature and then cool the water just a little bit and bring it back to body temperature. If I do this a few times it helps. I’m still very hot but I feel fresher and that makes me feel a lot better anyway.”
“I have night sweats as well as day time sweats and it’s dreadful. I get through so many changes of clothes and we now have to change the bed every couple of days. Our laundry has gone through the roof.
“My pain consultant was quite dismissive when I suggested to her that it was the CRPS. They tested my thyroid and also thought it may be a side effect of the medication I take, but I’m absolutely convinced that the main reason is the CRPS.
“Drinking really ice cold water seems to help. Fortunately we have one of those fridges that makes ice cubes so I always have a glass on the go. I also have fans in the front room and the bedroom. I keep them on low on the other side of the room from where I am and I place a small screen in front of them to disperse the flow of air so that it’s not all directed one way. This keeps the air circulating so it does help a bit.”
Other practical tips
Memory foam mattresses
If you suffer from excessive sweating, it’s best to avoid memory foam mattresses. They are designed to provide support by moulding to your body shape. To do this, the surface of the memory foam needs your body heat to warm it up. However, the material is synthetic and not breathable, instead reflecting your body heat back towards you. In addition, the synthetic material is very poor at dispersing moisture.
Most importantly – dehydration
If you’re sweating a lot you will quickly dehydrate, which will not only make you feel worse but can be very dangerous if you become excessively dehydrated. An average person produces over a litre of sweat a day, so just imagine how much fluid your body is losing if you’re sweating excessively. Drink plenty of fluids. Keep a ready supply of water to hand (it doesn’t have to be cold) and take regular sips. You need to be drinking enough to keep urinating. If your urine is darker or cloudy, you are almost certainly dehydrated and if you’re not urinating at all, you are severely dehydrated.