What causes sweating?
There are many causes of sweating that range from mild to serious.
Psychological causes of sweating
Physiological causes of sweating include:
- Anxiety and anxiety disorders
- Panic attack or panic disorders
- Remembering a traumatic event
Causes of sweating related to substances
Sweating may be caused by a variety of medications and substances including:
- Coffee or any product containing caffeine
- Medications to treat mental disorders, fever, or thyroid disease
- Spicy foods
- Stimulant drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine
- Toxins such as nerve gas and certain insecticides
Other causes of sweating
Other causes of sweating include:
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Warm or humid environment
Serious or life-threatening causes of sweating
In some cases, sweating may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These conditions include myocardial infarction (heart attack).
Certain cancers such as lymphomas can cause abnormal sweating, chiefly at night, along with fever and other symptoms.
Questions for diagnosing the cause of sweating
To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your sweating including:
- How long have you been experiencing abnormal sweating?
- Where on your body does the sweating occur?
- Does your sweating correspond to certain events or times of day?
- Do you have any other symptoms?
- What medications are you taking?
What are the potential complications of sweating?
Sweating is rarely associated with serious diseases. But because abnormal sweating can accompany some serious conditions, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:
- Brain damage
- Cardiac arrest
- Heart failure
- Respiratory arrest
- Seizures and tremors
- Unconsciousness and coma
Sweating. MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003218.htm. Accessed May 28, 2011.
Hyperhidrosis. MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007259.htm. Accessed May 28, 2011.
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.... Read more about sweating introduction