What are Cold Sweats?

Cold Sweats is a common term used to describe a condition in which an individual has perspiration but without any presence of heat. Medically speaking, it can be described as a condition in which the temperature of the body is not warm both internally and externally but still the individual has persistent perspirations. This abnormal sweating is medically known as diaphoresis and is a symptom of many medical conditions, some of which could be potentially serious.

Thus, any individual with a complaint of Cold Sweats need to consult with a physician to rule out an underlying condition causing it. While Cold Sweats may indicate a potential pathologic condition, in some cases it may just be that an individual may be doing some strenuous activity like exercising in a hot environment and suddenly enters a cool or air conditioned room. This may result in the skin temperature to come down while the sweat due to the heat outside has still not evaporated. This may cause the individual to feel cold but it cannot be considered as a Cold Sweat.

What are Cold Sweats?

What Causes Cold Sweats?

There can be many causes for an individual to break into Cold Sweats. While some may be mild benign conditions, there are certain conditions that may be potentially serious and may require emergent medical condition. If the Cold Sweats are accompanied by any other symptom then it may indicate a possible cause for the presence of Cold Sweats. Below mentioned are some of the causes for Cold Sweats.

Hot Flashes: It is a condition in which the body all of a sudden heats up resulting in Cold Sweats. This is usually seen in menopausal females as a result of some hormonal changes. This is a benign condition but can significantly affect the quality of life of the female.

Hyperhidrosis: This is a condition in which an individual has excessive perspiration and is a cause for Cold Sweats. This excessive perspiration may occur in some parts of the body in some people while in others it may occur throughout the body. Hyperhidrosis is caused due to the sympathetic nervous system becoming overactive and abnormally stimulating the sweat glands resulting in excessive perspiration. This condition is also not serious but may be embarrassing for people, especially those who work outside of the home.

Hypoglycemia: This is a pathologic condition of the endocrine system in which the blood sugar level in the body goes down significantly resulting in Cold Sweats among other symptoms like lightheadedness. This condition is mostly seen in diabetics and requires prompt medical attention to get the sugar levels back to normal by way of medications.

Myocardial Infarction: This is yet another serious cause for an individual breaking into cold sweats. Along with Cold Sweats, the individual having myocardial infarction will complain of severe chest pain and shortness of breath. Additionally, the individual will have left arm pain radiating to the neck and jaw. This is a potentially serious medical condition and requires immediate medical attention.

Low Blood Pressure: This is a medical term used for low blood pressure and can cause an individual to break into Cold Sweats. Hypotension can be caused due to various causes like a cardiac condition, infections, or certain allergic reactions. Excessive blood loss due to an accident or injury may also result in an individual having hypotension. Apart from Cold Sweats, other symptoms that will be apparent due to hypotension are dizziness and lightheadedness.

Hypoxia: This is a serious medical condition which can cause an individual to break into Cold Sweats. Hypoxia means there is oxygen deficiency in the body and the vital organs of the body are not able to get the required amount of oxygen needed to function normally. There may be a number of causes for hypoxia including asphyxiation, poisoning, lung diseases and acute cardiac disorders. Sudden hypoxia is what that causes Cold Sweats. Along with this there may be dizziness, blurred vision and in some cases fainting that may occur due to hypoxia. This condition is a medical emergency and requires emergent medical attention.

Shock: This is yet another cause for Cold Sweats. Shock is a condition in which due to some reason there is lack of blood and oxygen supply to various parts of the body. There can various causes due to which an individual can go into a shock to include anaphylactic shock which is caused due to severe allergic reaction, cardiogenic shock which is caused due to cardiac condition like heart failure, hypovolemic shock which is caused due to abnormal blood loss either during a surgical procedure or due to an injury or trauma like a motor vehicle crash, septic shock caused due to conditions like septicemia. Shock is an absolute medical emergency and requires the individual to be transferred to the nearest emergency room for treatment.

Some of the other causes that may result in an individual breaking into Cold Sweats are:

  • Motion sickness
  • Severe pain
  • Vasovagal reaction
  • Psychological stress
  • Persistent vomiting
  • High grade fever.

Treatments to Get Rid of Cold Sweats

The treatment for Cold Sweats depends on what is actually causing the individual to have it. Cold Sweats caused due to conditions like myocardial infarction, shock, hypoglycemia or other serious medical conditions need to be treated in an emergency room setting while the less serious causes like stress and other common conditions can be taken care of by making certain lifestyle modifications. Some of the treatment methods to get rid of Cold Sweats are:

  • Participate in relaxation techniques or yoga to manage stress appropriately. In case if this is not useful, you can consult a psychologist for cognitive behavioral therapy which is widely recommended these days to help cope up with stress and anxiety.
  • You need to make changes in your sleep wake cycle so that you go to bed at a particular time and wake up the next day refreshed.
  • Try and wear loose fitting clothing and lower the room temperature in case if you suffer from hot flashes or hyperhidrosis
  • Try and avoid eating just before going to bed as it can trigger Cold Sweats
  • If there are other symptoms accompanying Cold Sweats then it is best to go to the nearest emergency room to rule out any potential serious causes of Cold Sweats and get appropriate treatment.

In summary, Cold Sweats can be caused by both benign as well as some serious illnesses. These causes need to be identified and if found to be serious ones emergent treatment should be given. In case of benign conditions like stress, anxiety, or hot flashes causing Cold Sweats then the lifestyle changes mentioned above can be quite helpful in you getting rid of Cold Sweats.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: July 5, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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