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Diaphoresis: Definition, Causes & Treatment

Diaphoresis: Definition, Causes & Treatment
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  • 0:01 What Is Diaphoresis?
  • 1:02 Causes
  • 2:17 Treatment
  • 3:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Emily Smathers
Everybody sweats. Your body sweats to cool you down when you're overheated. But, there's a point when sweating is no longer helpful, but harmful. At that point, it becomes diaphoresis.

What Is Diaphoresis?

Have you ever found yourself so sweaty that you were soaked? If you've spent much time outside on a hot summer day, it's likely that you have. But have you ever sweat to excess on other occasions? Or, were you unable to stop sweating once you'd tried cooling yourself off? If so, you might have been suffering from a medical condition.

Diaphoresis is excessive sweating, or sweating so much that you are soaked. It is considered a medical condition as it does not correct itself after a time when it should have stopped. It goes beyond just regular sweating due to its great quantities.

Another medical condition involving excess sweat, called hyperhidrosis, should not be considered the same as diaphoresis, although they are similar. Hyperhidrosis is the most common reason for excessive sweating, but it's due to an overactive sympathetic nervous system, which makes it different from diaphoresis. Diaphoresis is caused by various medical conditions and generally requires medical attention to correct it. However, fixing it requires knowing the specific cause.

Causes

The most common cause for diaphoresis is menopause. Menopause is when women go through hormonal changes, completing their life stage of being fertile and able to have children. As hormones fluctuate to their new state, the body generates heat and causes the woman to sweat.

Other more serious medical conditions for diaphoresis include medical shock, fever, allergic reactions, thyroid disorder, and bacterial infections. Medical shock is serious, as it can be caused by congestive heart failure, medication, or other medical conditions. For example, shock sustained from an automobile wreck can push the body into coping, and those shifts in body heat can lead to sweating.

In fever, thyroid disorder, and bacterial infection, the body is trying to handle the shift of heat created by hormones or infections. In those instances, sweating is an attempt to correct the excessive heat. While these are generally less serious than medical shock, they can easily turn into an urgent need for medical attention. For example, the body will fight an infection with a fever by sweating to cool itself. When the heat is too high and sweating does not do enough to cool the body, medical attention is needed to destroy the fever before it destroys the body.

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