Cold Sweats – Causes, Treatment

Cold sweat

Cold sweat or cold sweats is a symptom in which the patient sweats and has cold skin at the same time. This sweating does not serve the usual heat regulation at high temperatures or during sporting exertion, but is the result of an underlying disease.

What is cold sweat?

In the case of cold sweat, the sweat itself is not cold, but the skin is . For this reason, the sweat is perceived as cold. The cold sweat is a signal that the body is under increased stress . Sweating usually occurs suddenly and overwhelms the patient like a wave .

However, the patient is not warm, but suffers from a severe cold. The cold sweat itself is not a disease, but only a symptom. The outbreak can be a one-time occurrence or recurrent. In addition, the cold sweat can occur in different regions of the body.

In most cases, however, the entire body is affected. Ultimately, cold sweats are always only symptomatic of an underlying disease and a warning signal from the body. Cold sweat can also give off a different smell of its own. In addition, cold sweats can affect both men and women and occur in children and adults alike.


The causes can be varied. In most cases, there is actually a more serious illness behind it. For one thing, a cold sweat is a shock reaction . The body reacts in an extremely stressful situation – whether physical or mental – with an outbreak of cold sweats. Even in the event of a circulatory collapse , the human body reacts with cold sweating.

Low blood sugar , also known as hypoglycemia, can also be present. There are often additional symptoms such as tachycardia , clouding of consciousness or dizziness . Even when there is a severe lack of oxygen, the body produces more sweat while feeling cold at the same time.

Another typical trigger for cold sweats is pulmonary edema or water lungs. Here, more fluid collects in the lungs , both in the tissue and in the vesicles. This disease is often associated with cardiac insufficiency . Due to the weaker pumping capacity of the heart , the blood accumulates and the pressure increases, which in turn pushes more fluid into the tissue.

This can also happen as a result of a heart attack , tachycardia or heart muscle inflammation . High blood pressure , an overactive thyroid or alcohol addiction are also a risk to the heart and can trigger this chain reaction in the body. Pulmonary edema can also be caused by an allergic reaction or by infectious diseases .

Cold sweats can also occur in young children. This is especially dangerous for the child. A so-called pseudocroup can be behind this. Croup is an inflammation of the upper airways and is accompanied by a dry, barking cough . Cold sweats can also be a symptom of a mental illness. Fear and stress are also triggers. The body switches to escape mode and cools down the body as a precaution.

As the blood pressure drops, the skin is cold. Fear of exams or stage fright can also represent such a high level of psychological stress that you break out in a cold sweat. Other causes of cold sweats can also be viral diseases and infections, such as the flu.

But seasickness , AIDS and tuberculosis can also cause the symptoms. Menopausal women often experience both hot flashes and cold sweats. A so-called sickle cell anemia or an immune disorder is rarer .

diseases with this symptom


Depending on the condition that causes the cold sweat, the complications can be serious. The cold sweat itself does not pose any danger to the body. On the contrary, it helps the body to regulate its temperature. However, it is also a warning sign. Both hypoglycaemia and a heart attack or pulmonary edema are serious and life-threatening diseases that require immediate action and treatment.

The accompanying symptoms that often occur in connection with cold sweats are also a risk for the patient. These include, for example, chest pain , dizziness, clouding of consciousness, tachycardia or nausea . But also shortness of breath , chills and fever are typical companions of the cold sweat.

When should you go to the doctor?

If cold sweats occur as a result of an acute stressful situation such as exam anxiety or stage fright, there is no need to seek medical help. The symptoms usually go away when the situation is over. Relaxation exercises or homeopathic remedies such as valerian can help here .

In the event of severe stress, it is advisable to avoid the situation if possible or to seek therapeutic help. The situation is different in the case of an underlying disease or shock. Since life can be threatened here, a doctor must be consulted immediately. Both a heart attack and pulmonary edema can be fatal. But anaphylactic shock or severe hypoglycaemia can also trigger a coma and have a fatal outcome.

Pseudocroup in children can also lead to shortness of breath and should therefore be treated as soon as possible. Menopausal women can get valuable tips from their gynecologist or take well-tolerated medication to alleviate their symptoms.


The cold sweat itself can be seen with the naked eye. It can also be felt or smelled. A moist film forms on the skin. However, the skin underneath remains cool. The patient’s clothing is often soaked. It can disappear immediately or remain visible for a while.

In addition, the patient often suffers from low blood pressure or tachycardia. Dizziness may also occur at the same time as well as nausea or pain in the chest or abdomen. The diagnosis is made according to the anamnesis of the vital functions and the clarification of the accompanying symptoms. The cold sweat itself can be diagnosed very well, since the patient can also clearly describe the symptoms and there are usually typical causes and clinical pictures.

Treatment & Therapy

In order to treat the symptoms of cold sweat, it is necessary to treat the causative disease. In the event of a stress-related cold sweat outbreak, the stressful situation must be resolved. If there are underlying circulatory problems , it usually helps to drink something or eat something containing sugar, sit down and put your feet up so that the circulatory system can stabilize .

A warm blanket and a warm environment help against freezing . The sweat can first be washed off with a damp or dry cloth and later removed in the shower. For all other diseases such as pulmonary edema, cardiac insufficiency or hypoglycaemia and shock, the treatment must be targeted at this disease. The solution here can be either medication or, if necessary, surgery.

During the menopause, the hormonal balance is no longer in balance, which results in numerous symptoms. Here the gynecologist can recommend appropriate preparations to alleviate the symptoms. Once the disease has been cured, the cold sweat symptoms also disappear. Some diseases, such as AIDS, are not yet curable. In this respect, the symptoms will not go away either.

Outlook & Forecast

If the cause of the cold sweat is found and eliminated, then the cold sweat formation will disappear completely. The patient need not worry that the symptoms will persist if recovery has otherwise been achieved. Thus, one can speak of a complete healing prognosis.

If the clinical picture worsens or the disease cannot be cured, the symptoms can also occur again and again. Hypoglycaemia can occur again and again, especially in diabetic patients and thus trigger cold sweats. Likewise, stressful situations in life cannot be avoided. Anyone who reacts with a cold sweat will not be able to escape these symptoms without avoiding the stressful situation themselves.


Preventing cold sweats is difficult. Since cold sweat is a natural reaction of the body, it cannot be avoided as a reaction to certain triggers. What can be done is address the root causes. Diabetics should ensure that they do not fall into hypoglycaemia by regularly checking their insulin levels .

Try not to expose your body to unnecessary stress. If it cannot be avoided, sufficient compensation should be provided or, in extreme cases, something should be taken to calm down. This is where talking to a psychologist or therapist can help. If necessary, psychotropic drugs must be taken .

A healthy lifestyle is particularly important to prevent damage to the heart. Regular exercise is a must to strengthen the cardiovascular system. If you have recurring circulatory problems, you should drink a lot of water and keep your circulatory system going. Exercise in the fresh air is particularly helpful here. Contrast showers also stimulate the circulation, as do spicy foods and caffeinated drinks. Rosemary and ginseng also help as therapeutic natural remedies .

You can do that yourself

Basically, it is not in the power of the patient whether the body reacts to a situation or illness with a cold sweat. However, care can be taken to adopt a healthy lifestyle. However, if a cold sweat occurs, the most important thing is to keep calm. The best thing to do is to drink something and eat something nutritious if you have circulatory problems or diabetes .

This means that immediate action can be taken when the body calls for help and the circulatory system breaks down. Sitting down and putting your feet up helps best as an immediate measure. In addition, a warm environment is naturally useful. Bystanders can be asked for help. Cold sweat should be removed as best as possible to counteract further cooling of the body when wet in the air. The causes – if unknown – should be clarified by a doctor. Once the condition is over, a hot bath and changing clothes will help.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.