What is Diaphoresis & How is it Treated?|Causes, Symptoms of Diaphoresis

What is Diaphoresis?

Diaphoresis is a medical condition where some people experience excessive sweating or the sweating is so much that they get soaked. It is something that goes beyond regular sweating. This condition is caused due to various medical conditions. Hence it is important to know about diaphoresis, its symptoms, causes and treatment or symptom management of diaphoresis.

There is one more similar condition of excessive sweating known as hyperhidrosis; however one must not get confused with diaphoresis as the former one, unlike the latter that is caused due to an overactive sympathetic nervous system. Diaphoresis results in very severe perspiration and people suffering from this condition may find this embarrassing at times. Let us understand about diaphoresis in detail, with its symptoms, causes and also the treatments or symptom management for diaphoresis.

What is Diaphoresis?

Symptoms of Diaphoresis

  • Excessive sweating is primary symptom of diaphoresis. Following are some of the related symptoms of diaphoresis.
  • Excessive perspiration that results in body odor, especially when it is metabolized by beneficial bacteria on the skin
  • Areas that produce excessive sweat in the body due to diaphoresis usually appear pink or white.

In severe cases, the area producing sweat may appear cracked, scaly and soft. Discomfort or itching in the areas of sweating is also a common symptom of diaphoresis.

Causes of Diaphoresis:

Here we have listed some of the causes of diaphoresis:

  • Menopause is the most common cause of diaphoresis. Menopause is a phase when women go through specific hormonal changes, which increases metabolism or generates heat and causes them to sweat more than usual.
  • Some medical conditions like fever, allergic reactions, thyroid disorder or bacterial infections, too are some of the common causes of diaphoresis.
  • One more serious medical condition known as medical shock can also cause diaphoresis or excessive sweating. This condition may also be linked to congestive heart failure, and some other medical conditions.
  • Diaphoresis is also experienced in an acute heart attack or myocardial infarction.
  • It is also known that diaphoresis is also associated with some abnormal conditions like hyperthyroidism.
  • Some serious infections like that of malaria, tuberculosis etc can also cause diaphoresis.
  • Malignant diseases like leukemia, neuroleptic malignant syndrome etc. can also cause diaphoresis.
  • Patients who suffer from diabetes relying on insulin shots or any oral medication may also experience diaphoresis.
  • Withdrawal from alcohol, benzodiazepines, nonbenzodiazepines, etc can cause excessive sweating or diaphoresis.
  • Certain antidepressant, antipsychotics, morphine, alcohol etc. can also cause diaphoeresis.
  • A rare tumor of the adrenal gland, known as pheochromocytoma, can also cause diaphoresis.
  • Apart from all these, some emotions like fear, anxiety, anger etc. can also trigger sweating.

Treatments/Symptom management for diaphoresis:

There are various treatment options for diaphoresis and they vary from individual to individual. A medical professional would review the symptoms plan for treatment of diaphoresis or symptom management for diaphoresis. Here we will talk about some of the treatment procedures for diaphoresis and also know about some ways of symptoms management for diaphoresis.

Though there are various ways to treat diaphoresis or excessive sweating, it is essential to follow some steps that can help you manage the effects of condition and follow advised medical treatment for diaphoresis. Following are the steps to manage the condition.

  • Take bath at least two times a day with soap and water.
  • Change your socks at least once or twice a day and make use of shoe inserts to absorb moisture from your feet.
  • Use underarm pads to address sweating
  • Reduce the amount of coffee or other hot beverages.
  • Use a deodorant that has an antiperspirant.
  • Keep away from stress and anxiety as they can also trigger sweating.
  • Consult with your doctor for appropriate treatments.

These important ways of symptom management for diaphoresis help to a great extent.

Some of the important medical treatment for diaphoresis may be as follows.

  1. Botulinum toxin injections: Botulinum toxin injections can be injected in to the skin in areas of the body affected by excessive sweating. It aids in reducing sweating in these particular areas by blocking the signals from brain to the sweat glands. Usually armpits, feet, hands, face etc. are the most common areas where about 15 to 20 such injections are given and the whole procedure continues for about 45 minutes. This is one of the commonest treatment for diaphoresis. Normally, the effect of the Botulinum toxin injections usually lasts for many months after which, one more treatment may be needed. There may be some side effects of this treatment which include redness and pain in the portions where injections have been given, muscle weakness around the area of treatment, nausea, headaches etc. However most of these side effects are short lived.
  2. Prescription medications: There are certain prescriptions medications used as a treatment for diaphoresis. Anticholinergic or Antimuscarinic is a type of prescribed medicine that works by blocking the effects of a chemical known as acetylcholine which is used by the nervous system to activate the sweat glands. These anticholinergics are available as tablets or solutions that are applied at the affected areas. Dry mouth, stomach cramps, blurred vision, constipation or difficulty while passing urine, may be some of the side effects of these medications.
  3. Prescribed antiperspirants: Antiperspirant may help you treat excessive sweating. That antiperspirant which contains aluminium chloride is also one of the common treatments for diaphoresis. You need to apply the prescribed antiperspirant at night before sleep and wash off in the morning. There may be mild irritation or itching by applying this.
  4. Iontophoresis: One more options of treatment of diaphoresis affecting your hands and feet can be Iontophoresis. This involves treating the affected areas of the skin with a weak electric current that is passed via water or a wet pad. This is believed to help in blocking the sweat glands. Each session of Iontophoresis continues for about 30 minutes and one usually requires having 2-4 such session in a week. It is believed that symptom starts improving in two weeks of the treatment, depending on how severe is your condition in diaphoresis. Though this is not a painful treatment the electric current used while the process of treatment can cause mild and short lived skin irritation or discomfort.
  5. Surgical treatments: In some cases, surgery may be recommended as a treatment for diaphoresis or excessive sweating. ETS or Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy is one of the most popular type of surgery for treating excessive sweating, especially those affecting the palms or the armpits. Here, small incisions are made in the side of the chest and the nerves that control sweating in the affected portions are cut. By this way signals no longer can pass along them to the sweat glands. General anesthesia is given before progressing the treatment procedure. It must be noted that there are some side effects or serious complications with such a treatment and also the treatment may not always come out successful in treating excessive sweating. Damage to the nervous system, chest pain, breathing difficulties, may be some of the serious complications of ETS

Apart from all these above mentioned treatment procedures, it is essential to treat the underlying causes of diaphoresis and be aware of symptom management for diaphoresis.

Now that you are known to the causes and the treatment procedures along with the symptom management for diaphoresis, you can seek the best treatment for diaphoresis.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 1, 2019

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