Diaphoresis occurs when a person sweats excessively for no apparent reason. Often, an underlying medical condition or a natural life event, such as menopause, may be responsible for this type of sweating.
The body releases in a bid to control its temperature. A person may sweat due to high body temperature, physical exertion, or exposure to heat. The sweat acts as a coolant, reducing the temperature inside the body.
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Also, some people may sweat in their armpits or on the palms of their hands because of mental or emotional stress. Diaphoresis usually resolves once the underlying cause is known.
It is essential for someone to see a doctor if they experience frequent diaphoresis. Often, the underlying condition can be treated and future diaphoresis prevented.
Causes of excessive sweating
A range of conditions can cause diaphoresis, including the following:
Menopause is a common cause of excessive sweating in women. This type of sweating often occurs at night. Estrogen and other hormones fluctuate during and just before menopause. The hormones can send messages to the brain that the body is overheating even when it is not, which triggers a sweat response.
Excessive sweating can be a sign of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), for someone who has diabetes. In these situations, a person needs to bring their blood sugar levels back up. Hypoglycemia can cause severe complications and be life-threatening if left untreated. Other signs of hypoglycemia are loss of vision, dizziness, shakiness, slurring words, or anxiety.
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When a person has hyperthyroidism, their thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine. Thyroxine helps regulate the body’s metabolism. Too much thyroxine can increase the speed of someone’s metabolism, causing excessive sweating. Other symptoms may include weight loss, racing heartbeat, trouble sleeping, anxiety, and shaky hands.
Most pregnant women sweat more than at other times in their lives. Sweating during pregnancy could be as a result of increased metabolism, weight gain, or hormone fluctuations. Most pregnancy-related sweating is normal, but a woman should see a doctor if the sweating is associated with extreme chills, fever, or vomiting.
Obesity or being overweight can make a person more susceptible to sweating. This can be due to increased force from carrying more weight or holding on to heat.
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Excessive sweating is a potential side effect of many medications. Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs that may cause excessive sweating include:
- some antibiotics
- some antiviral medications
- pain relief drugs such as oxycodone
- drugs used for chemotherapy
- hormonal medications, such as insulin
If a person suspects they are sweating profusely due to a medication they are taking, they should consult their doctor. It is possible they may recommend a change in medication.
- Heart attack
A heart attack is a medical emergency. In addition to severe sweating, a person may experience nausea and vomiting, chest pain, pale face, shortness of breath, and pain in the (neck, jaw, back, or both arms).
This is an extreme allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. In addition to sweating, a person may experience hives, itchy skin, loss of consciousness and sudden decrease in blood pressure. A person should seek prompt medical help if experiencing anaphylaxis.