What is sweating?

Sweating occurs when the sweat glands in your skin secrete a salty fluid called sweat, or perspiration. Sweating is a normal function that serves to cool your body, often in hot or humid environments or when you exercise.

Excessive sweating may be a symptom of an underlying disease, disorder or condition. The medical term for excessive sweating is hyperhidrosis. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are just two of many conditions that may cause excessive sweating.

Emotionally stressful or traumatic events are a psychological cause of excessive sweating. The consumption of certain substances, such as alcohol, caffeine or spicy foods, may also cause you to sweat. Women often experience abnormal sweating during menopause.

Sweating may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition such as a heart attack. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you are sweating and experience other serious symptoms, such as a change in level of consciousness or alertness, passing out or unresponsiveness, vomiting, severe headache, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, or if you think you may be having a heart attack.

If your sweating is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with sweating?

Sweating may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Causes of sweating may also involve other body systems.

Common symptoms that may occur along with sweating

Sweating may accompany symptoms related to other body systems including:


What causes sweating?

There are many causes of sweating that range from mild to serious.

Psychological causes of sweating

Physiological causes of sweating include:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 30, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails

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