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ICD-10 R61
ICD-9 780.8

Template:Search infobox Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Kiran Singh, M.D. [2]

Synonyms and keywords: Cold sweat, clammy


Diaphoresis is excessive sweating commonly associated with shock and other medical emergency conditions. It is distinguished from hyperhidrosis by the "clammy" or "cold state" state of the patient.

Classification of Sweating

There are four types of sweats:

  1. Diaphoresis: Diaphoresis is a cold sweat. Diaphoresis is excessive sweating commonly associated with shock and other medical emergency conditions. It is distinguished from hyperhidrosis by the "clammy" or "cold state" state of the patient.
  2. Primary Hyperhidrosis: Primary hyperhidrosis is a condition characterized by abnormally increased perspiration, in excess of that required for regulation of body temperature. This is not a cold sweat.
  3. Secondary Hyperhidrosis: Secondary hyperhidrosis is a condition characterized by abnormally increased perspiration, in excess of that required for regulation of body temperature that is secondary to an underlying pathologic process such as infections, disorders of the thyroid or pituitary gland, diabetes mellitus, tumors, gout, menopause, certain drugs, or mercury poisoning. This is not a cold sweat.
  4. Night sweats: Sleep hyperhidrosis, more commonly known as the night sweats, is the occurrence of excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) during sleep. The sufferer may or may not also suffer from excessive perspiration while awake.

Physiological (normal) causes of Sweating

Normal physical causes of diaphoresis include exercise, menopause, fever, spicy foods, high environmental temperature, and vigorous sports. Strong emotions (anger, fear) and remembrance of past trauma can also trigger profuse sweating.

The vast majority of sweat glands in the body are innervated by sympathetic cholinergic neurons. Sympathetic cholinergic neurons are sympathetic postganglionic neurons that happen to release acetylcholine instead of norepinephrine.

Pathological causes

Diaphoresis may be associated with some abnormal conditions, such as hyperthyroidism and shock. If it is accompanied by unexplained weight loss or fever or by palpitations, shortness of breath, or chest discomfort, a physician should be consulted. Diabetics relying on insulin shots or oral medications may have low blood sugar, which can also cause diaphoresis.

Various drugs (including caffeine, morphine, alcohol, and certain antipsychotics) may be causes, as well as withdrawal from alcohol or narcotic painkiller dependencies. Sympathetic nervous system stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines have also been associated with diaphoresis. Diaphoresis due to ectopic catecholamine is a classic symptom of a pheochromocytoma, a rare tumor of the adrenal gland.

Diaphoresis is also seen in an acute myocardial infarction, from the increased firing of the sympathetic nervous system.

Differential Diagnosis of Diaphoresis


Life Threatening Causes

Common Causes

Causes by Organ System

Cardiovascular Acute rheumatic fever, acute hypertensive crisis, anaphylactic shock, Bland-garland-white syndrome, cardiogenic shock, cardiomyopathy, circulatory shock, cor pulmonale, endocardial fibroelastosis , endocarditis lenta, endocarditis, heart failure, infective endocarditis, left heart failure, myocardial infarction,orthostatic hypotension, pulmonary embolism, rebound hypertension, shock, sleep apnea, ventriculo-arterial discordance, isolated, volume depletion
Chemical/Poisoning Carbamate insecticide poisoning, Indian tobacco (lobelia inflata), Indole alkaloids poisoning, mercury poisoning, muscarine, organophosphate insecticide poisoning, pesticide poisoning, poison hemlock (conium maculatum, tobacco plant poisoning, toxic mushrooms
Dental No underlying causes
Dermatologic Acrodynia, basal cell carcinoma, eccrine nevus, granulosis rubra nasi, Jackson-lawler congenital pachyonychia, Jadassohn-Lewandowsky syndrome, Meleda disease, pachydermoperiostosis, palmoplantar punctate keratoderma type 3, pitted keratolysis, Poems syndrome, rosacea, Ross' syndrome, tufted angioma
Drug Side Effect Acetaminophen, ambenonium, amitriptyline, amonafide, anastrozole, aspirin, aztreonam, beta blockers, beta-agonists, bethanechol, bromocriptine, bupropion, calcium channel blockers, cladribine, clozapine, cyclosporine, demecarium bromide, desipramine, desvenlafaxine, dimebon, dimercaprol, distigmine, donepezil, dothiepin, duloxetine, echothiophate iodide, exemestane, flumazenil, flutamide, fluvoxamine, gonadorelin, goserelin, histrelin, Humorsol, hydralazine, imatinib, infliximab, interferon alfa-2b, letrozole, leuprolide, methadone, morphine, nafarelin, neostigmine, niacin, nitroglycerin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, nortriptyline, omeprazole, opioids, phenylephrine, phospholine iodide, physostigmine, pilocarpine, protease inhibitors, pyridostigmine, raloxifene, rituximab, ropinirole, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, sibutramine, sildenafil, sulfonylureas, tamoxifen, theophylline, thiazolidinediones, tramadol, tricyclic antidepressants, vancomycin resistant enterococcal bacteremia, venlafaxine
Ear Nose Throat No underlying causes
Endocrine Acromegaly, carcinoid syndrome, diabetes insipidus, diabetes mellitus, diabetic neuropathy, gonadorelin, growth hormone secreting pituitary adenoma, growth hormone, hyperthyroidism, hypoglycaemia, hypogonadism, insulinoma, medullary carcinoma of the thyroid, menopause, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2, multiple endocrine neoplasia type3, phaeochromocytoma, Poems syndrome, thyrotoxicosis
Environmental Heat exhaustion
Gastroenterologic Blue rubber bleb nevus syndrome, congenital hepatic porphyria, dumping syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux, liver abscess, rickets
Genetic Alternating hemiplegia of childhood, collagen vascular disease, congenital hepatic porphyria, dermatopathia pigmentosa reticularis, fucosidosis, granulosis rubra nasi, Jackson-lawler congenital pachyonychia, Jadassohn-Lewandowsky syndrome, Lobstein disease, Meleda disease, multiple endocrine neoplasia type1, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 3, myotonic dystrophy, pachydermoperiostosis, spinal muscular atrophy with respiratory distress 1
Hematologic Polycythaemia rubra vera, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Lymphoma
Iatrogenic Castration, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, postorchiectomy, serotonin syndrome
Infectious Disease Abscess, acute rheumatic fever, AIDS, atypical mycobacteria, babesiosis, bacteremia, bacterial meningitis, brucellosis, chronic hepatitis C, chronic infections, encephalitis, herpes zoster of the preauricular region, HIV infection, liver abscess, lung abscess, malaria, osteomyelitis, pitted keratolysis, pneumonia, relapsing fever, sepsis, septic shock, tetanus, tuberculosis, viral infections
Musculoskeletal/Orthopedic Lobstein disease, osteomyelitis, pachydermoperiostosis, reflex sympathetic osteodystrophy, rickets
Neurologic Autonomic dysreflexia, alternating hemiplegia of childhood, alternating hemiplegia, autonomic dysreflexia syndrome, autonomic dysreflexia, autonomic dystonia, autonomic hyperreflexia, autonomic nerve disorders, autonomic neuropathy, bacterial meningitis, diabetic neuropathy, encephalitis, Frey's syndrome, Hereditary sensorimotor neuropathy type 2, hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type 3, idiopathic syringomyelia, motion sickness, myotonic dystrophy, neurogenic shock, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, pain, Parkinson's disease, POEMS syndrome, posttraumatic syringomyelia, reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, reflex sympathetic osteodystrophy, sleep disorders, spinal autonomic dysreflexia, spinal muscular atrophy with respiratory distress 1, stroke, syringomyelia, temporal arteritis, traumatic brain injury
Nutritional/Metabolic Aromatic amino acid decarboxylase deficiency, congenital hepatic porphyria, food additives, fructose intolerance, fucosidosis, hypertryptophanemia, hypoglycaemia, obesity, rickets, xanthic urolithiasis
Obstetric/Gynecologic Menopause
Oncologic Acute monocytic leukemia, basal cell carcinoma, carcinoid syndrome, eccrine angiomatous hamartoma, eccrine nevus, germ cell tumors, growth hormone secreting pituitary adenoma, hodgkin's lymphoma, insulinoma, lymphoma, malignancy, medullary carcinoma of the thyroid, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 3, non-hodgkin's lymphoma, phaeochromocytoma, polycythaemia rubra vera, prostate cancer, renal cell carcinoma, sarcomas, soft tissue sarcoma, trophoblastic cancer, tufted angioma
Ophthalmologic Temporal arteritis
Overdose/Toxicity Alcohol, opioids
Psychiatric Acute stress disorder, alcohol withdrawal, anxiety disorders, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, cocaine withdrawal, blushing, discontinuation syndrome, heroin withdrawal, opioids withdrawal, panic attack, sleep disorders, withdrawal in drug addicts
Pulmonary Acute pulmonary oedema, anaphylactic shock, anoxemia, atypical mycobacteria, cor pulmonale, lung abscess, pneumonia,pulmonary embolism, sarcoidosis, sleep apnea
Renal/Electrolyte Renal calculi, renal cell carcinoma, urolithiasis
Rheumatology/Immunology/Allergy Acute rheumatic fever, anaphylactic shock, collagen vascular disease, mastocytosis, reflex sympathetic osteodystrophy, rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, temporal arteritis
Sexual No underlying causes
Trauma Traumatic brain injury
Urologic Hypogonadism, prostate cancer
Miscellaneous Cold-induced sweating syndrome type 1, Gamstorp-wohlfart syndrome, Idiopathic, Loewenthal syndrome, Pourfour du petit syndrome

Causes in Alphabetical Order


When diaphoresis is pathologic, the underlying cause should be treated. When the cause is menopause, estrogen replacement therapy may improve the symptoms.


See also

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