A cold sweat

A cold sweat

Cold sweat or diaphoresis is excessive sweating that occurs not because of exercise, hot or cold weather. This condition can occur anywhere on the body, but is most common on the palms, soles, and armpits.

Cold sweats are different from sweats that appear during sleep ( night sweats ). Night sweats are only experienced during sleep and appear all over the body. Meanwhile, cold sweats can be experienced at any time.

Cold sweats, also known as secondary hyperhidrosis , are a symptom of a number of medical conditions. Several conditions that cause cold sweats are dangerous and classified as emergencies.

Causes of Cold Sweat

Cold sweats can be caused by a variety of conditions. The following is an explanation of the conditions that can cause cold sweats:

1. Shock

Shock is a condition when blood flow to the brain and other vital organs is reduced so that these organs are deprived of oxygen and nutrients. Shock is classified as an emergency condition that can be life threatening if not treated immediately.

2. Hypoxia

Hypoxia is a condition of reduced oxygen levels in cells due to disease or poisoning. This condition can occur when a person is in a place where there is little air, such as at high altitudes.

3. Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia or blood sugar levels below normal can trigger cold sweats. Cold sweat appears because the body's reaction to hypoglycemia is similar to the body's reaction to hypoxia.

4. Hypotension

Hypotension is a condition of blood pressure that is below normal limits. Hypotension can be dangerous if it causes the brain and other organs to lack oxygen. This condition can also develop into shock if blood pressure drops significantly.

5. Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a condition when the thyroid gland is overactive and produces too much of the hormone thyroxine.

6. Infection

Infection occurs when a virus or bacteria invades the body. Any infection that can cause a fever can also cause cold sweats. In addition, a severe infection or sepsis can trigger shock, which automatically causes cold sweats.

7. Cancer

Cold sweats can be caused by liver cancer, lymphoma , bone cancer, and blood cancer (leukemia). Cancer treatments, such as radiotherapy, can also trigger cold sweats.

8. Heart attack

Cold sweats can be a sign of a heart attack . Seek medical help immediately if cold sweat is accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain that feels like pressure, pain or discomfort in the neck, jaw, stomach and back, and dizziness and feeling like you might pass out.

9. Vertigo

Vertigo is dizziness that makes sufferers feel themselves or their surroundings spinning. Call your doctor if cold sweat is accompanied by vertigo and other symptoms, such as nystagmus, double vision, ringing in the ears, or difficulty speaking.

10. Migraines

Migraines are a type of headache that can cause severe pain in the long term. Cold sweats can appear when a migraine attacks as the body's response to feeling pain.

11. Nausea

Nausea is an uncomfortable sensation that sometimes makes a person want to vomit. Nausea can be caused by eating too much or a side effect of medication.

12. Pain due to injury

Pain from an injury, such as a broken bone, amputation , or a head injury, can be severe. The pain can trigger cold sweats.

13. Passed out

Fainting or syncope occurs when the brain doesn't get enough oxygen. Cold sweats may occur moments before or after fainting.


Menopause is a condition when the balance of the hormones estrogen and progesterone changes drastically causing the menstrual cycle to end. Cold sweats usually appear accompanied by hot sensations during menopause and perimenopause.

Perimenopause itself is the period after menstruation starts rarely until it stops completely and enters menopause

15. Stress

Stress can arise due to anxiety or fear. These feelings of anxiety and fear can trigger cold sweats.

16. Drugs

Cold sweats can also be caused by the use of drugs, such as antibiotics, pain relievers, and hormonal drugs.

Cold Sweat Symptoms

Cold sweats are generally a symptom of a condition. Cold sweats can be accompanied by several other symptoms, depending on the underlying cause, such as:

  • Pain or soreness
  • Anxiety or stress
  • shivers
  • Dizzy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue

When to see a doctor

Immediately see a doctor if you experience cold sweat accompanied by the following conditions:

  • Confusion or hallucinations
  • Hard to breathe
  • Chest pain
  • Blue fingernails or lips
  • bloody chapters
  • Vomiting blood
  • High fever, which is over 38 o C
  • seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

In addition, seek immediate medical attention if cold sweat is accompanied by tightness, chest pain that radiates to the shoulder, jaw or arm, nausea and fainting.

Cold Sweat Diagnosis

To diagnose cold sweats, the doctor will conduct a question and answer about the symptoms experienced by the patient and the patient's medical history. After that, the doctor will carry out a physical examination to ensure the patient's health condition.

If needed, the doctor will carry out supporting examinations to establish a diagnosis. Some of the checks that can be done are:

  • Blood or urine tests, to determine the underlying cause of cold sweats, such as hyperthyroidism or hypoglycemia
  • Iodine starch test , to find out how much sweat appears, by spreading iodine solution on the sweaty area
  • Paper test, to find out how much sweat appears, by placing special paper on the sweaty part
  • Scans, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs, to view organ structures and detect tumors.

Cold Sweat Treatment

Cold sweat treatment depends on the underlying cause. For example, cold sweats caused by a heart attack require intensive care at the hospital.

For causes that can't be treated, such as menopause, doctors can use medication to control the appearance of cold sweats. Some actions that can be taken are:

1. Antiperspirants

Your doctor can prescribe an antiperspirant containing 10–35% aluminum chloride. The content of aluminum chloride will work by clogging the sweat glands in the skin.

2. Iontophoresis

In this procedure, a low electric current is applied to the patient's skin. Iontophoresis aims to temporarily block the sweat glands so that sweat production can be reduced.

3. Botox injections ( botulinum toxin )

Botulinum toxin (botox) works by blocking the nerves that give signals to produce sweat. Botox is given by a doctor by injection.

4. Antidepressant drugs

Doctors can prescribe antidepressants for patients who experience cold sweats due to anxiety disorders.

Cold Sweat Complications

If left untreated, sufferers who experience excessive cold sweats can get complications in the form of infections in the skin. In addition to skin infections, sufferers can also experience social and emotional disturbances due to embarrassment and lack of confidence.

Cold Sweat Prevention

Cold sweat prevention must be adjusted to the cause. Efforts that can be made include:

  • Perform routine medical check-ups
  • Live a healthy lifestyle, such as exercising regularly and not smoking
  • Avoid excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Eat at regular times to avoid hypoglycemia

For people who suffer from certain diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes , and hyperthyroidism, carry out regular health checks to monitor these diseases, while reducing the risk of complications and the appearance of cold sweats.

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