Sweat triggered by either fear, anxiety, or illness is a cold sweat.
The medical term used to describe cold sweating is diaphoresis.
A cold sweat points to unexpected but substantial stress on the body. This stress could either have a physical or psychological root cause. In some cases, the source of the problem could be a combination of both factors.
The human body has a complex union of different biological systems working together. One of these systems deals exclusively with heat.
There are over two million sweat glands responsible for the body’s temperature regulation.
Types of Excessive Sweating
Scientifically, excessive sweating is known as hyperhidrosis. This is a condition that makes it difficult for sweat glands to function normally.
An estimated 2-3% of the entire American population suffers from this kind of excessive sweating. Medical experts believe it is a hereditary disorder.
Hyperhidrosis is further classified into two types:
Primary (focal) hyperhidrosis: This condition begins in childhood. Research suggests genes carry this trait. Focal hyperhidrosis presents as excessive sweating in the palms, face, armpits, and feet.
Secondary (generalized) hyperhidrosis: It usually starts in adulthood. Medical conditions are the major culprits of this kind of sweat. It can also occur as a side effect of certain medicines and treatments.
People who have secondary hyperhidrosis sweat all over their bodies. They may also sweat in one huge or general surface area.
Sleep hyperhidrosis, also known as night sweats, are severe hot flashes that only happen at night. In most cases, the hot flashes are unprovoked.
Treatment and management of hyperhidrosis depend on the type of underlying conditions causing it. There could also be other complex factors.
Understanding Cold Sweats
The millions of sweat glands present in the body further divide into two categories:
The eccrine glands: These are evenly spread all over the body. They are the ones primarily responsible for temperature regulation.
The sweat produced from these glands is largely water-based. This is because the body needs the moisture to evaporate off the skin for the cooling effect.
The apocrine glands: These are more localized glands. They are mainly found in the armpit and groin areas. Although these glands can be activated by heat, they are majorly triggered by hormonal fluctuations and stress.
Cold sweats, therefore, are produced by the apocrine glands.
Everyone experiences some version of cold sweating in their lifetime. In isolation, it is not viewed as a health risk.
However, because cold sweats are also caused by severe injury or illness, medical help is highly advised.
A person’s symptoms during a cold sweat include:
- Suddenly feeling cold or chilly
- Extremely pale skin
- Clammy skin
Cold sweats usually appear on the hands, underarms and soles of the feet.
What Causes Cold Sweats?
As mentioned before, cold sweat is the body’s fight or flight response in action.
This defense mechanism can be traced back to the beginning of evolution. Early man used it to exercise judgment because his life depended on it.
Normal life occurrences can still trigger a similar reaction in people to date. These include:
- Extremely violent attacks
- Claustrophobic situations
- Traffic jams
- High-stress situations such as career presentations
Individual reactions to stress differ depending on the person affected. In most cases, however, a person’s heart rate accelerates under stress. They could also display symptoms such as:
- Shallow breathing
- Dry mouth
- Humid hands
- Cold sweats
The following eight conditions may cause cold sweats:
- Anxiety disorders
- Pain and shock
- Alcohol and drug withdrawal
- Hormonal irregularities
Tips for Dealing with Cold Sweats
Cold sweats are not meant to reoccur.
The way to treat them is to consult a licensed medical practitioner. They will assist in finding and treating the underlying cause.
Here are some simple tips to manage or ease the effects of cold sweats:
A person dealing with cold sweats can use well-aerated clothes for temporary relief.
Breathable fabrics provide relative freedom for the skin. Light or white clothes can also help. They act by reflecting heat from the body.
Reducing heat exposure limits the severity of sweating.
Foods with a thermic effect can aggravate the situation for a person already going through cold sweats. This is because they make the body react as it would inside a sauna or on a humid day.
The body instinctively tries to cool down when we eat or drink the following:
- Spicy foods
- Some proteins
- Onions and garlic
- Alcoholic drinks
- Fatty or processed foods
- High sugar and high-carb foods
Yoga and Meditation
Stress and anxiety are the core culprits behind cold sweats.
Yoga and meditation are among some of the complementary mind-body techniques used to manage stress and anxiety.
The practice of yoga combines:
- Specific poses
- Controlled breathing
- Meditation or relaxation techniques
Some potential health benefits of yoga include:
- Overall mood enhancement
- Improved strength, endurance fitness, and flexibility
- Control over some chronic conditions like high blood pressure, insomnia and depression
Even in the absence of cold sweats, physical exercise should be a part of everyone’s lives.
Exercise is not just about increasing a person’s aerobic capacity and muscle tone.
People who exercise regularly report a higher sense of well-being. Other benefits include:
- More energy throughout the day
- Improved sleep quality at night
- Stress management
- Improved memory retention
- Higher positivity overall
Regular exercise has had significant positive impacts on people with depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other mental health conditions.
People do not need to be extremely active to reap all these benefits of exercise.
Research shows that even small amounts of physical activity can make a difference, regardless of age and fitness level.
There are other simple changes a person can make to handle cold sweats. A few of them include:
The biggest complication from any type of sweating is excess moisture.
The odor from sweat is caused by bacteria. Bacteria thrive in moist conditions. Keeping the skin clean and dry helps reduce the chances of breaking out into sweats.
Bathing or showering with antibacterial soap also helps reduce body odors.
To reduce the risk of excessive sweating, avoid tight, enclosed shoes that trap the feet and give bacteria room to multiply. Keeping the feet dry helps in sweat regulation as well as odor management.
People can also use absorbent footwear such as sport socks or wool to reduce the risk of moisture.
The causes of cold sweats can be easy to identify. A person may get a huge fright or be involved in a serious accident. Managing the situation usually resolves the cold sweating immediately.
Once in a while, it can be a challenge to figure out why someone experiences cold sweats. And here's our complete guide to excessive sweating.
Although we have shared some basic tips to help with management, the first point of contact should always be a medical doctor’s office.
If you do suffer from cold sweats, Sweatshield Undershirts can protect you against underarm sweat stains, keeping you cool, dry and comfortable throughout a busy day.