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Health Encylopedia

Sweating - excessive
Definition Diaphoresis is a medical term for profuse sweating. It can be normal (physiologic), brought on by physical activity , emotional response, or high environmental temperature, or a symptom of an underlying disease (pathologic).
Alternative Names Perspiration - excessive; Diaphoresis; Increased sweating
Considerations In most cases, sweating is perfectly natural, especially when exercising or hot or if something has happened to cause an emotional response (being angry, embarrassed, nervous, afraid, or anxious). If sweating is accompanied by fever, weight loss, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, or palpitations, other physical causes should be considered.
Common Causes
  • environmental temperatures (warmth)
  • fever
  • , often triggers sweating to cool off the body
  • menopause
  • overactive thyroid
  • gland--the hands shake, the hair thins, the skin is smooth, and the
  • pulse is fast
  • diabetics receiving insulin or oral medication may go into a
  • cold sweat when their blood sugar drops too low
  • periodic sweating of sweating at night without an obvious cause may be caused by an underlying infection or malignancy
  • emotional or psychological stimulation (being in or thinking about difficult situations)
  • exercise
  • spicy foods (known as "gustatory sweating")
  • drugs (including antipyretics, some antipsychotics, sympathomimetics, caffeine, morphine, alcohol and thyroid hormone)
  • withdrawal from alcohol or narcotic
  • analgesics
    Home Care After an episode of unusual sweating, the face and body should be sponged, wet clothes and/or bed sheets changed. Lost body fluids should be replaced by drinking plenty of water. Room temperature should be kept moderate to prevent additional sweating. For sweating due to menopause , consult your health care provider about estrogen replacement.
    Call your health care provider if
  • there is prolonged, excessive, and unexplained sweating.
  • sweating is accompanied or followed by
  • chest pain or pressure.
  • sweating is accompanied by weight loss or occurs primarily at night when sleeping.
  • What to expect at your health care provider's office The medical history will be obtained and a physical examination performed. Medical history questions documenting excessive sweating in detail may include:
  • location
  • Is it on face and/or palms?
  • Is it all over the body?
  • time pattern
  • Does it occur at night?
  • Did it begin suddenly?
  • How long have you had it?
  • aggravating factors
  • Does it occur in response to reminders of a
  • traumatic event ?
  • other
  • What other symptoms are also present?
  • Are there cold clammy hands?
  • Is there a
  • fever ? Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
  • blood tests depending on the suspected cause
  • X-rays or other imaging depending on the suspected cause
  • Intervention: Fluids and electrolytes will be replaced as necessary. If identified, an underlying cause should be treated. After seeing your health care provider: If a diagnosis was made by your health care provider related to excessive sweating, you may want to note that diagnosis in your personal medical record.