Diaphoresis means excessive sweating due to a secondary condition. It may be a medical condition, life event or side effect of a medication. Common causes include menopause, hyperthyroidism and various medications. Treatment will vary depending on the cause of your condition. It may clear up after treating an underlying medical condition.
Diaphoresis is the medical definition of excessive sweating due to an underlying health condition or a medication. The pronunciation of diaphoresis is “dia-fuh-ree-sis.” Another name for diaphoresis is secondary hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis means excessive sweating. Secondary means you’re sweating because of a separate condition. Primary hyperhidrosis means another condition isn’t causing the sweating.
Diaphoresis means you’re sweating more than normal or you’re sweating for no clear reason. You’re not sweating because of hot temperatures or working out. The excessive sweating usually occurs over your entire body instead of on smaller areas such as the palms of your hands. Diaphoresis usually means you have an underlying medical condition or you’re experiencing a life event such as menopause. Some conditions can cause complications or be life-threatening.
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Diaphoresis usually causes your whole body to sweat instead of one part, such as your armpits or hands. The sweat is visible, soaking through your clothing or dripping off your body. Diaphoresis may affect you while you’re sleeping, soaking your sheets in sweat. The condition usually doesn’t start until adulthood.
Diaphoresis means abnormal sweating due to a secondary condition. Causes of diaphoresis may include:
Menopause is one of the most common causes of diaphoresis in women or people assigned female at birth (AFAB). Just before and during menopause, fluctuating hormones send false signals to your brain that your body is overheating. These signals trigger “hot flashes” during the day and “night sweats” at night. Up to 85% of people going through menopause report excessive sweating. Diaphoresis can also occur during perimenopause. Perimenopause occurs after you’ve stopped menstruating but before menopause has started.
Diaphoresis is also a common condition during pregnancy. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that can lead to excessive sweating. In addition, when your metabolism speeds up, your body temperature increases, which can lead to profuse sweating. Pregnancy also causes weight gain, which also increases body temperature. Most pregnancy-related sweating is normal. But you should see your healthcare provider if you have diaphoresis along with a fever, chills or vomiting. It could be a sign of an infection.
When your thyroid becomes overactive, it makes too much of a hormone called thyroxine. This is called hyperthyroidism. Thyroxine helps control your body’s metabolism. Too much thyroxine causes your metabolism to speed up. One of the signs of hyperthyroidism is excessive sweating. Other symptoms of the condition include:
While not a medical emergency, you should receive treatment for hyperthyroidism. Antithyroid medications are available.
If you have diabetes, excessive sweating may be a sign of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Hypoglycemia triggers your body’s fight-or-flight response, which can cause profuse sweating. Other symptoms of hypoglycemia may include:
If you have hypoglycemia, you need to restore your blood sugar levels right away. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can cause life-threatening complications.
Excessive sweating is one of the most common signs of a heart attack (myocardial infarction). A lack of blood flow to your heart muscle can cause myocardial infarction. This can happen when oxygen-rich blood can’t reach your heart because of a blockage in one or both of your coronary arteries. Other symptoms of a heart attack may include:
A heart attack is a medical emergency. If you or someone around you has any of these symptoms, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
When a person has alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder (SUD), they can go through withdrawal when trying to quit. Diaphoresis is a common symptom of substance withdrawal. Other symptoms of withdrawal may include:
Some of these symptoms may be life-threatening, so it’s important to work with your healthcare provider before you stop using a substance.
Severe allergic reactions to triggers such as peanuts, shellfish or bee stings can cause anaphylaxis. These reactions occur almost immediately after exposure to the allergen. A common symptom of anaphylaxis is excessive sweating. Other symptoms of this condition may include:
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. If you have any of these symptoms, use your epinephrine injector (EpiPen®). If it’s unavailable, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
Certain prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications can cause side effects that include excessive sweating. These medications may include:
Your healthcare provider can determine if your excessive sweating is due to diaphoresis based on your specific symptoms and other health conditions. They’ll ask you about your medical history and perform a physical examination to determine the cause of the condition. If needed, they may also recommend lab work or imaging tests.
Treatment for diaphoresis will vary depending on the cause of your condition. The excessive sweating may clear up after treating an underlying medical condition.
If a certain medication is causing the condition, your healthcare provider may change your dose or prescribe a different one. Otherwise, they may recommend one of the following ways to manage your condition:
You can’t always prevent diaphoresis, but there are steps you can take to reduce excessive sweating. These steps include:
Diaphoresis has many common causes. Once you determine the cause, you can work with your healthcare provider to clear up the condition. Your excessive sweating should stop once you discover the underlying cause and begin treatment.
If you start sweating more than usual or for no apparent reason, call your healthcare provider. They can help you determine if you’re sweating due to an underlying health condition.
If you have excessive sweating along with any of the following symptoms, call your healthcare provider right away. It may be a sign of a serious medical condition:
No, diaphoresis is different from a heat rash, but they’re both related to sweat. Heat rash is also known as sweat rash. It occurs when you develop a skin irritation because sweat is trapped in the pores and ducts below your skin. When the sweat can’t leave your body, a rash forms.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Diaphoresis is excessive or abnormal sweating for no apparent reason. It often means you have an underlying medical condition or you’re experiencing a life event such as pregnancy or menopause. Diaphoresis usually isn’t a cause for concern and will clear up when the underlying cause is treated. However, some conditions are more serious. Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider if you’re sweating more than normal and you’re not sure why.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/28/2022.
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