Sweating, also known as diaphoresis in medical terms, is the body’s natural response to heat or excessive stress. During the summer season, we sweat because of the heat. Did you know that we can also sweat due to excessive stress?
Cold sweats happen when you are otherwise not in a hot and humid condition, but experience a sudden release of sweat. For example, when your hands get very clammy or when you have a nightmare and wake up drenched in sweat. There are many causes for cold sweats, which can surprise you. Let us find out.
What do you Mean by Cold Sweats?
Sweating is a natural bodily response that usually happens to keep the body’s temperature within a normal range. For example, when we are feeling very hot during the summer, sweat has an evaporating effect, which in turn, helps the body cool down. Cold sweats, on the other hand, happen without any external heat source affecting the body. You can suddenly break out into sweat for no apparent reason at all.
Cold sweats can be the result of internal body functions as well as external environmental effects. Some of the reasons behind cold sweats can be extremely concerning, while others can be quite mild.
What are the Causes for Cold Sweats?
It is important to note that having a cold sweat does not imply an inherent medical condition. It simply refers to feeling cold and sweating at the same time. Understanding why a cold sweat happens has to do with understanding why your body is cold during the episode.
Therefore, if you are not an easy-to-sweat person and you experience cold sweats, there may be certain reasons associated with it. Let us look at some of the main culprits behind cold sweats.
Probably the most common reason for cold sweats, a feverish body can often experience sweating even without any heat source. During fever, cold sweats are usually associated with chills as well. This is because your body sweats to give off the excess heat produced within, and then the ambient temperature falls but you are still sweaty. This can happen if you are down with a fever or have taken medicine to lower your body temperature. One of the causes for cold sweats can be fever since it is usually associated with fluctuating body temperatures.
Cold sweats can be a side effect of several over-the-counter medications. It has been clinically proven that certain medicines, such as antidepressants, medications for dementia, corticosteroids, and opioids, for example, can cause cold sweats. It can be possible that a medication you are taking is causing severe cold sweats. In this case, it is important to consult with your doctor and let you know you are facing this side effect.
Cold sweat causes us to feel unnerved because sweating for no apparent reason can sometimes mean something is off with your body. The causes for cold sweats can be a simple side effect or a potential medical disorder. However, do not stop taking the medication on your own. Speak to your doctor first and then follow their advice.
Are you the kind of person who sweats no matter what the temperature is outside? Some people just sweat a lot, without any apparent heat stressors on or around them. This is a fairly normal happening and is known as primary focal hyperhidrosis. This is very rarely a medical issue since it is simply the body’s mechanism to cool itself.
If hyperhidrosis starts before the age of 25, stops when the person is asleep, and is not accompanied by any other symptoms, it is just among the normal causes for cold sweats.
Another reason behind cold sweats can be the hot flashes associated with menopause. While it is true that sweating associated with hot flashes does not qualify as cold sweat in the traditional sense, many people experiencing menopause can go through it.
It is interesting to note here that cold sweats are not limited to women going through menopause alone. Women between the ages of 30 and 60 can experience cold sweats associated with fluctuations in the menstrual cycle. Following a hot flash, the temperature of body can decline all of a sudden, which can be one of the causes for cold sweats.
Do you know that stress can also be a factor that leads to cold sweats? This is usually seen when you experience cold sweats in sleep. Psychological stress caused by issues such as anxiety or depression can induce cold sweats in people.
Numerous mood disorders can contribute to cold sweats. Stress itself can bring out cold sweats even when not accompanied by a psychological issue or trigger.
Some of the more potent causes for cold sweats can be bodily infections. Auto-immune, as well as bacterial infections, can cause cold sweats in people. Some of the infections that could lead to cold sweats are:
- Bacterial infections like endocarditis
- Other acute and chronic infections
Also known as low blood sugar, this happens when the blood pressure falls below normal levels. Usually, this is accompanied by a lack of oxygen. Sometimes, this can also be associated with cold sweats. It has been scientifically proven that both types of diabetes can mess with the body’s temperature regulation mechanism. Hence, if you are a diabetic, you will have problems regulating your body temperature.
If you feel that your blood sugar levels are among the causes for cold sweats, the first thing to do is to measure your blood sugar. You should also contact a doctor right away in case your levels have fallen below the normal level. Drinking sugary drinks can also help.
One of the potentially disturbing causes for cold sweats can be a heart attack. If you notice any of the following symptoms along with a cold sweat, please go to the emergency room as soon as possible as these can help you detect and prevent a heart attack:
- Breathing difficulty
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Feeling like you will pass out
- Abdominal or chest discomfort
- Shooting pains in your left arm
- Pain in the neck, jaw, or back
How can Cold Sweats be Treated?
Now that we have looked at the possible causes for cold sweats, it is important to know how they can be treated and in which cases treatment may not be necessary.
People who experience cold sweats due to primary focal hyperhidrosis can be offered medicated antiperspirants if it becomes an issue. In all other cases, it is important to treat the causes for cold sweats rather than the cold sweat itself. Whether it is caused by infections or fever, treating the root is more important.
If you are having sudden and unexplained cold sweats associated with a host of other symptoms, then it is advised to seek medical help. Speak to your doctor and go through testing if necessary. Keep in mind that cold sweats can be both harmless as well as very harmful, so please do not risk keeping it to yourself if you’re experiencing this.