Sweating too much is normal because the human body constantly regulates its temperature. When one starts sweating profusely with no known reason, it is important to immediately seek medical help to confirm its actual cause.
What is Diaphoresis?
The term diaphoresis refers to excessive sweating due to the result of an underlying medical condition or medication. It is important not to mistake diaphoresis for hyperhidrosis as diaphoresis is just the secondary form of hyperhidrosis called secondary (generalized) hyperhidrosis.
Causes of Diaphoresis
A large number of diseases and medical conditions can cause diaphoresis. A range of conditions that can cause diaphoresis include the following:
Sweating is basically one of the early signs and warning of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia.
A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when part of your heart muscle is damaged or has died. This usually occurs because oxygen-rich blood can’t reach the heart due to a blockage in one or both of the coronary arteries.
Some types of cancer
Diaphoresis is associated with certain types of cancer, including:
- bone cancer
- carcinoid tumors
- liver cancer
The cancer, an infection, or the cancer treatment may cause excessive sweating.
Pregnancy causes hormones to increase in your body. Your metabolism speeds up, which increases your body temperature. This may cause you to perspire more. Pregnancy also causes weight gain, which increases body temperature and the likelihood of sweating.
As long as you don’t have other symptoms, such as a fever, body aches, or vomiting, increased sweating during pregnancy is rarely cause for concern.
Before menopause (transition from fertility to infertility), fluctuating hormones send false signals to the brain that the body is overheating. This triggers excessive perspiration and night sweats.
Majority of women (upto 80%) experience sweating, particularly at night, and hot flashes during menopause and perimenopause.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid gland becomes overactive and produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. When this happens, your metabolism speeds up and you can experience heavy sweating.
Anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction, is an intense and acute allergic reaction. One of the first signs of an anaphylaxis reaction is an instant onset of heavy and profuse sweating.
Withdrawal from drugs or alcohol
Withdrawal from drugs or alcohol is usually very difficult and takes effort and dedication. This withdrawal process causes fluctuating blood pressure levels which in turn leads to profuse sweating.
Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications have been known to cause diaphoresis. Some of this medications include:
- pain relievers, like celecoxib (Celebrex), naproxen, and oxycodone (Roxicodone, Oxaydo)
- antibiotics or anti-viral medications such as bacitracin, ciprofloxacin (Cipro), and ribavirin (RibaTab, Copegus)
- drugs used in chemotherapy, including leuprolide (Eligard, Lupron Depot, Lupron Depot-Ped), and tamoxifen
- hormonal medications such as insulin, levothyroxine (Levothroid, Levoxyl, Synthroid, Unithroid), and medroxyprogesterone (Provera)
Treatment for Diaphoresis
The treatment for diaphoresis depends on what is causing it. The best and most effective treatment of diaphoresis is understanding and treating the underlying disease or disorder that is causing the excessive sweating.
First and most popular way to tackle excessive sweating once its cause has been identified is with an antiperspirant, which most people already use on a daily basis to help form a plug that blocks the sweat glands.
If antiperspirants are not effecttive, dermatologists may recommend one of these medical treatments:
This method of treatment involves passing a low electric current through water in a bowl in which hands, feet, or both has been submerged. This procedure is carried out for about 20 to 30 minutes. No one knows exactly how this treatment works, but experts believe it blocks sweat from getting to your skin’s surface. You’ll have to repeat this treatment at least a few times a week, but after several times you may stop sweating.
Although iontophoresis is generally safe, it’s not recommended for women who are pregnant and people who have pacemakers or metal implants (including joint replacements), cardiac conditions, or epilepsy.
Another treatment option for heavy sweating is injections of botulinum toxin A (Botox), the same medicine used for wrinkles. Botox is FDA-approved for treating excessive sweating of the underarms, but some dermatologists may also use it on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
Botox works by preventing the release of a chemical that signals the sweat glands to activate. You may need to have several Botox injections, but the results can last for almost a year.
When you’ve tried antiperspirants and treatments like iontophoresis and Botox and they haven’t worked, your doctor might recommend a prescription medicine such as anticholinergic drugs. Oral anticholinergic drugs stop the activation of the sweat glands, but they aren’t for everyone because they can have side effects such as blurred vision, heart palpitations, and urinary problems.
Surgery is only recommended for people with severe diaphoresis that hasn’t responded to other treatments. During surgery, the doctor may cut, scrape, or suction out the sweat glands. In the case of another surgical alternative called ETS (Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy), the doctor makes very small incisions and cuts the nerve in the armpit which normally activate the sweat glands.
Key Facts about Diaphoresis:
- The term diaphoresis refers to excessive sweating due to the result of an underlying medical condition or medication.
- Sweating too much is normal because the human body constantly regulates its temperature.
- It is important not to mistake diaphoresis for hyperhidrosis as diaphoresis is just the secondary form of hyperhidrosis called secondary (generalized) hyperhidrosis.
- The treatment for diaphoresis depends on what is causing it. The best and most effective treatment of diaphoresis is understanding and treating the underlying disease or disorder that is causing the excessive sweating.