Cold sweat / cold sweat

Those who sweat excessively may suffer from excessive sweat production. (Image: andriano_cz / fotolia.com)

Sweating can indicate serious illness

Sweating is a completely normal and natural process that plays a key role in maintaining health. Sweat takes on several important functions for the body, with the focus on regulating the heat balance. If the organism is heated up by the blazing sun, sport or in the sauna, for example, the beads of sweat evaporate on the surface of the skin and cool the skin. This prevents overheating.

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Cold sweat, on the other hand, has other reasons, because this is a clear sign that the body is under great stress. Psychological triggers such as fear or stress as well as physical causes such as acute hypoglycaemia in diabetes or pseudo croup in small children come into consideration here. Cold sweats can also be a warning sign of a life-threatening event such as a heart attack or severe shock. Accordingly, this should always be taken seriously and clarified immediately by an (emergency) doctor.

Why do we sweat

Many people find it uncomfortable when they sweat. This is especially true in summer temperatures or physical exertion, when dark spots quickly appear under the armpits and sweat is on the forehead. Sweating is a completely natural process that affects everyone and fulfills important functions for the body and our health. This includes, among other things, the defense against harmful germs and the build-up of the protective acid mantle of the skin.

Many people feel uncomfortable when they sweat while doing sports, for example. But the natural process is important to avoid overheating the body. (Image: drubig-photo / fotolia.com)

The main task is to regulate the body temperature, because the evaporation of sweat on the skin cools the surface and protects the body from overheating ("thermoregulation"). Sweat itself is a watery secretion that is secreted from the skin via the sweat glands.

A distinction is made between the so-called "eccrine" and "apocrine" glands. The former occur all over the body and can produce large amounts of clear, odorless liquid. The apocrine sweat glands ("scent glands"), on the other hand, are only located on the nipples and in the armpit and genital area, where they act as producers of odor messengers (pheromones).

In total, there are more than two million sweat glands in the skin, with the density being highest on the soles of the feet and lowest on the lower legs. With a few exceptions (puberty, certain illnesses), the secreted sweat smells neutral, because the typical, pungent smell only arises when the liquid is broken down by bacteria on the skin.

Sweating can have many causes

In addition to "thermal sweating", which cools the body down (during heat, sports, in the sauna, etc.), sweats can have a number of completely different causes. Fever illnesses are often the trigger, and emotions such as excitement, stress and inner restlessness can sometimes trigger very profuse sweating. For example, fear of exams or situations such as an unpleasant appointment are conceivable here.

Hormonal changes (menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, etc.) can lead to more sweat being produced than usual. The same applies to certain medications such as cortisone. Furthermore, increased perspiration does not only occur in connection with fever, but can also be triggered as an accompanying symptom by diseases such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, rheumatism or cancer (e.g. acute leukemia).

In some cases, excessive sweat production occurs as an independent clinical picture (hyperhidrosis). When this happens, the body's thermoregulatory system is working too high, causing excessive sweating.

Those who sweat excessively may suffer from excessive sweat production. (Image: andriano_cz / fotolia.com)

Cold sweat: Indication of severe stress

While sweating is a completely natural and harmless process during heat or physical exertion, cold sweat on the forehead has other causes. It should be noted that the name is a bit misleading - because it is not the sweat itself that is cold, but the skin. In any case, this indicates that the body is under severe stress, be it due to psychological factors or a physical illness. Cold sweat should therefore always be taken seriously and clarified by a doctor.

Warning: In an emergency, it can even be a sign of a life-threatening event such as an acute lack of oxygen or a severe shock. If other symptoms occur, such as severe chest pain, pale face, and severe pressure or tightness in the chest, these may indicate a heart attack. Chest pain often spreads to other areas of the body such as arms, shoulders, neck or back.

Those affected often report burning pain, and it is also possible that a heart attack is accompanied by so-called "unspecific signs". These include shortness of breath, epigastric pain as well as nausea and vomiting. Since these symptoms can also mean a "harmless" illness, an emergency doctor should always be called on the recommendation of the German Heart Foundation if the symptoms occur to an extent that has not been experienced before.

Cold sweat on forehead from hypoglycaemia

With cold sweat on the forehead, caution is generally required. In the case of a diabetes patient, for example, this can indicate acute hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), which medically describes a blood sugar level that is too low. Hypoglycaemia can affect both type 1 and type 2 diabetics as the blood sugar drops to a concentration of less than 50 mg / dl.

In addition to the cold sweat, further symptoms such as inner restlessness, palpitations, dizziness and food cravings can occur. Muscle twitching, clouding of consciousness as well as impaired vision and concentration are typical.

In diabetics, low blood sugar levels can cause cold sweats. (Image: Syda Productions / fotolia.com)

If the blood sugar concentration falls below 30 mg / dl, convulsions and unconsciousness are possible. However, it is not uncommon for the early warning signs of hypoglycaemia to fail because frequent attacks of hypoglycaemia or long-term diabetes can lead to the body's own warning system no longer working properly (impaired hypoglycaemia perception).

Various triggers can be considered for the drop in blood sugar levels. Examples are late resp.Missing eating, physical exertion, an overdose of the prescribed medication (insulin, blood sugar lowering drugs) and excessive alcohol consumption, especially in connection with physical exertion (e.g. by going to the pub after training). There is an increased risk in the case of diarrhea or vomiting and too long a time lag between the insulin injection and food intake.

Cold sweat from pulmonary edema

One possible cause is what is known as “pulmonary edema”. This is an accumulation of fluid in the lung tissue or in the alveoli, which is why the disease is also known colloquially as "water lung". The accumulation of fluid can have various causes, whereby a medical distinction is made between cardiac (caused by the heart) and non-cardiac causes.

In most cases, it is a cardiac pulmonary edema, which is caused by a weak heart (heart failure) or a reduced pumping function of the heart. As a result, blood backs up in the pulmonary vessels. This in turn leads to an increase in pressure in the blood vessels, whereupon more fluid is pressed out of the vessels into the tissue.

Such a heart failure can result, for example, from a heart attack, an inflammation of the heart muscle or cardiac arrhythmias (palpitations, heart flutter). A disturbed heart valve function or congenital heart defects are also conceivable. Furthermore, long-term stress on the heart due to high blood pressure, alcohol abuse or an overactive thyroid gland may be the cause, since these factors can also lead to heart failure.

The less common non-cardiac pulmonary edema, however, is caused by other factors such as toxins, severe allergic reactions (anaphylactic shock) or infections.

Pulmonary edema can lead to severe shortness of breath, among other things. (Image: Michael Schütze / fotolia.com)

Depending on the stage of the disease, pulmonary edema can have various symptoms. If the accumulation of fluid is limited to the spaces between the lung tissue (interstitial pulmonary edema), the result is typically increasing dyspnoea. The air is sucked in here with more and more effort and accompanied by steadily louder rattling noises. Those affected breathe remarkably quickly, restlessly and shallowly, and coughing occurs frequently. Most people try to keep the upper body as upright as possible in order to get better air.

If the fluid has spread into the alveoli (alveolar pulmonary edema), the symptoms become more severe. The rattling breathing sounds increase, the pulse becomes significantly faster and bluish discoloration of the skin and blue lips (cyanosis) appear. Other typical signs are frothy, bloody sputum and cold sweat, often accompanied by increasing inner restlessness and severe anxiety.

Cold sweats for circulatory problems

Cold sweats are often a sign of weakness or poor circulation. Although this is widespread, it is usually not a serious illness. In addition to cold sweat, the main characteristics are dizziness, headaches, nausea, palpitations, fibrillation or blackness in front of the eyes and a feeling of weakness and drowsiness.

Circulatory weakness is caused when the brain is no longer adequately supplied with blood or oxygen, which in most cases is triggered by low blood pressure (hypotension). This can either be general or (in the more common case) only temporary, which in turn can have many different causes.

A distinction is made between primary and secondary hypotension: In the first case, the cause of the mostly permanently low blood pressure is not known, but it is striking that young, slim women are particularly often affected. In the case of secondary hypotension, however, the causes are known. For example, cardiovascular diseases (heart failure, heart attack, etc.), hypothyroidism, infectious diseases or kidney diseases come into question here. Furthermore, low blood pressure can be caused by certain medications.

The so-called "orthostatic dysregulation" represents a special form of circulatory problem. This involves an expansion of the blood vessels, which means that the body is no longer able to adjust the blood pressure accordingly when the body position changes. This leads to symptoms such as dizziness, paleness, nausea, cold sweating, visual disturbances or even fainting (circulatory collapse) when changing position.

Dizziness and frequent blackening of the eyes are typical symptoms of orthostatic dysregulation. (Image: pathdoc / fotolia.com)

A typical example is the blackness in front of the eyes and a dazed, dizzy feeling when getting up quickly from a lying position. Especially diabetics, people with pronounced varicose veins and those who generally have low blood pressure are affected. The elderly are at increased risk. Here, orthostatic dysregulation is one of the most common triggers of sudden loss of consciousness.

Cause circulatory shock

Further possible triggers for a circulatory weakness and thus for the development of cold sweat are inflammation, massive blood loss as a result of an injury, drug abuse, severe hypothermia or psychological causes.

The oxygen supply can suddenly be so severely restricted by a circulatory weakness that the organs are no longer adequately supplied. In this case, the circulatory system fails completely, resulting in a shock that can be life-threatening and must therefore be treated immediately by an emergency doctor. Cold sweats, tremors and freezing are typical accompanying symptoms. The same applies to dizziness, paleness, nausea, inner restlessness, states of confusion and clouding of consciousness, which can lead to unconsciousness or a coma.

Possible triggers for circulatory shock are, for example, severe heart diseases (especially acute heart attack and acute cardiac arrhythmias), massive allergic reactions (e.g. to medication), bacterial infections or severe psychological stress (fear, severe shock in an accident, etc.).

Cold sweats in toddlers

Caution: If a child, toddler or baby develops a cold sweat, a pediatrician should always be consulted or called immediately in order to clarify the cause and avoid health risks.

Cold sweats in children can have a number of reasons. If a hoarse, dry barking cough suddenly appears at the same time, a so-called “pseudo croup” (also “acute stenosing laryngotracheitis” or “croup cough”) is possible. This is an inflammation of the upper respiratory tract that mainly affects children between the ages of six months and six years. From a statistical point of view, boys are more likely to get sick than girls. Pseudo croup occurs more frequently during the typical cold times in autumn and winter, with the excruciating cough attacks occurring especially in the evening or at night.

In most cases, croup is caused by a viral infection (e.g. parainfluenza virus or measles). The illness is often preceded by a harmless flu-like infection with cough, runny nose and sometimes fever. Furthermore, bacterial infections (e.g. with pneumococci) and, in rarer cases, allergic reactions (e.g. to cat hair and house dust mites) are possible triggers. Pollutants in the environment - such as tobacco smoke in particular - are considered a risk factor or intensifier of a pseudocouple.

In addition to the typical hard, barking cough, which is caused by the heavily swollen mucous membranes on the larynx and upper trachea, the affected children typically gasp heavily when breathing. A hissing hissing sound can often be heard when taking in air; hoarseness and a slightly elevated temperature are still possible. The shortness of breath can lead to fear and panic. As a result, in rare cases, the symptoms are so strong that the shortness of breath can even be life-threatening and therefore requires an emergency doctor to be called immediately.

Always take barking coughs seriously

However, pseudo croup usually runs without complications - even if the barking cough often sounds very serious and frightening. In the event of an acute attack, it is especially important that the parents remain calm to calm the child and avoid agitation and panic. At the same time, the child should definitely be able to breathe easier. To do this, the little patient is brought into an upright position, and it can also be helpful to inhale either warm, moist air (inhale) or cool, moist air (at the window, open refrigerator).

If the child is having a croup attack, it is important to calm them down and make sure they can breathe better. (Image: Africa Studio / fotolia.com)

When the attack is over, the child should slowly drink some water or tea. A short walk in the fresh air is beneficial. Important: Although croup runs in most cases without any major problems, it is generally important to take any form of sudden, barking cough seriously. Because if the inflammation of the upper respiratory tract is not treated or treated too late, it can even be life-threatening.

Accordingly, if there is any suspicion, a pediatrician should always be consulted promptly or, if there is severe shortness of breath, the emergency call should be made immediately on the telephone number 112. The pediatrician then decides on suitable treatment measures. In the case of mild croup, cortisone suppositories are often used to prevent or counteract swelling of the larynx.

In severe cases or if the symptoms do not improve, treatment is usually given in the hospital, where the child can be helped in the case of severe shortness of breath, for example by inhalation with adrenaline or oxygen supply through a breathing mask. A thorough pediatrician examination is particularly important in more severe cases in order to be able to rule out the very rare “real” croup, which is caused by the dangerous, bacterial infectious disease diphtheria.

Psychological causes

Cold sweat can be psychological. Because if we are frightened or stressed, the body is in an alarm situation and is prepared for “fight or flight” by the so-called “sympathetic nervous system”. As a result, various physical changes such as an accelerated heartbeat, narrowing of the blood vessels in the skin, loss of appetite, rising blood sugar levels or reduced salivation are triggered. In addition, there is increased sweat production in order to cool the body, which is more demanding than usual, during the supposed “fight” or “flight”.

Here, however, the sweat hits cold skin, because unlike physical exertion, the blood flow to the skin is reduced during "emotional sweating" in a fearful or stressful situation (such as exam anxiety, stage fright or severe shock). As a result, the sweat cannot evaporate like it does with thermal sweating, but feels cold and smells different than "normal" sweat.

Mental stress such as exam anxiety can quickly lead to cold sweats. (Image: Light Impression / fotolia.com)

Since the body draws blood from the skin, fingers and toes in such an "alarm state" and instead supplies it to important parts of the body such as arms and legs, paleness, a feeling of blood loss or tingling or numbness in the extremities are typical in fear or panic Signs.

Therapy for circulatory problems

In the case of circulatory weakness, the central treatment measure consists in restoring blood flow and stabilizing the circulation. There are various possibilities for this, whereby the specific procedure always depends on the cause of the complaint.

If the reason for the low blood pressure is known (secondary hypotension), for example, the focus is initially on the treatment of the underlying disease, which in turn takes place, for example, by adjusting support stockings or performing a varicose vein operation.

In general, however, those affected can do a few things themselves to strengthen their circulation. Above all, it is important to refrain from nicotine, alcohol and too greasy food. Care should be taken not to get up suddenly from lying down or sitting, or to stand too long. Drinking enough (2 to 2.5 liters per day) is very important; cold-warm alternating showers and massages are also effective methods of stimulating the circulation.

Circulatory shock requires emergency medical treatment

Compared to circulatory weakness, circulatory shock is a life-threatening condition that must be treated immediately by an emergency doctor. The patient is usually given artificial respiration first, and in most cases circulatory stimulating injections or infusions are also necessary for stabilization. At the same time, blood pressure and pulse rate are constantly monitored and the heart function is monitored using an EKG.

Further treatment is carried out according to the cause of the shock. If this was triggered, for example, by a heart attack, the closed vessel must be reopened (reperfusion) and perfused, whereas an inflammation of the myocardium is usually treated with antibiotics and strict bed rest.

Therapy for hypoglycaemia

If hypoglycaemia is the cause of the cold sweat, immediate action is necessary. Because if the form is severe and persistent, there is a risk that the brain will be damaged in the long term or that the hypoglycaemia will even be fatal.

A mild form can also have health consequences in that, for example, impaired vision or impaired consciousness increases the risk of falls or accidents. Accordingly, the person concerned must immediately consume carbohydrates in the form of glucose (e.g. grape sugar, fruit juice) in order to increase the blood sugar level and thereby alleviate the symptoms. If this is successful, it is advisable for the patient to have a small meal afterwards to prevent another attack of hypoglycaemia.

In the case of mild hypoglycaemia, those affected should immediately drink fruit juice or eat glucose in order to normalize the blood sugar level. (Image: mahey / fotolia.com)

If the person concerned is no longer conscious, an emergency doctor must be called immediately, who will then initiate the further treatment steps. First aiders should make sure that the unconscious person is not given solid food or liquids in order to avoid the risk of suffocation. On the other hand, the subcutaneous or intramuscular injection of glucagon from the emergency kit for diabetics by an external helper is possible, which causes a rapid, short-lasting increase in blood sugar.

Treatment for pulmonary edema

If there is acute pulmonary edema, there may be an acute danger to life, so that immediate intensive medical treatment is also necessary. The person concerned is first placed in what is known as the "heart bed position" by placing the upper body high and the legs low so as not to aggravate the shortness of breath. If necessary, the airways are cleared and oxygen is given, in severe cases artificial respiration is given.

The doctor will administer medication such as diuretics and nitroglycerin; diazepam and morphine can alleviate the symptoms in the event of inner restlessness, fear and pain. Following these immediate measures, the underlying cause is treated - if known - by using, for example, digitalis to strengthen the heart in the case of heart failure, or antiallergic agents are used in the case of an allergy.

Relief of discomfort through a healthy lifestyle

Often the symptoms arise in connection with circulatory problems. These can often be effectively and sustainably alleviated with the help of sensible alternative healing methods. However, the active cooperation of the patient is important, because a change in lifestyle is often necessary in order to keep the circulatory system stable over the long term and to be able to cope with the demands of everyday life.

A healthy diet with lots of fruit, vegetables and whole foods, sufficient fluids, regular exercise and plenty of fresh air play a key role. It is also necessary to avoid risk factors such as nicotine, excessive alcohol consumption and excessive amounts of coffee and black tea (maximum three cups) in order to relieve the circulatory system.

Regular exercise and plenty of fresh air are particularly important for circulatory problems. (Image: ARochau / fotolia.com)

Naturopathy for cold sweats

Various naturopathic approaches can be considered to stimulate the circulation. Examples are so-called “discharge procedures” such as building decay therapy.In this, the alternative practitioner triggers local irritation of the skin by means of tiny needle pricks with the "life alarm clock" and the subsequent rubbing in with special oil in order to detoxify and relieve the body.

In many cases, herbal medicine can provide effective and at the same time gentle support for circulatory disorders. Here, for example, ginseng and rosemary come into consideration, the former being generally considered a "tonic", while rosemary has proven itself particularly as a herbal remedy for low blood pressure. There are many possible uses, so that, depending on your preference, you can prepare a tea or a tincture from fresh or dried rosemary leaves, for example.

Rosemary essential oil has also become indispensable in aromatherapy for cardiovascular problems and is used, for example, in the form of massage oil, bath additives or for inhalations.

A relaxing rosemary bath stimulates the circulation and helps with low blood pressure. (Image: srady / fotolia.com)

Valerian has proven itself to support heart health. Drink valerian juice from the pharmacy to strengthen yourself, mixing a tablespoon with a little tea or milk per serving. Alternatively, there is an infusion with the soothing medicinal plant.

Recipe for valerian blackberry tea:

  • Mix together 20 grams of valerian root and 40 grams of blackberry leaves
  • Add a tablespoon of the mixture to 250 milliliters of boiling water
  • Let the infusion steep for 15 minutes before straining
  • Drink one cup of the tea in the morning and one in the evening

If severe, acute pulmonary edema is present, this requires immediate intensive medical treatment in any case. But in the subsequent treatment of the underlying diseases, naturopathy can sometimes be used sensibly. However, it is important to coordinate with an alternative practitioner or doctor for naturopathic treatment beforehand in order to select the right remedies for the respective clinical picture and to avoid health risks.

The field of homeopathy comes into question, for example. In the case of severe weakness and exhaustion, foam formation and shortness of breath, Arsenicum album (white arsenic) has proven to be the "main remedy" here. If it comes to a collapse, whistling or rattling breathing and a bluish discoloration of the face, Carbo vegetabilis (charcoal) is suitable. If there is a feeling of tightness, heat or heavy weight in or on the chest and foam formation in the case of pulmonary edema, Phosphorus (yellow phosphorus) is often used.

Schüssler salts are a good support in the treatment of pulmonary edema, whereby salts number 8 (sodium chloratum) and number 10 (sodium sulfuricum) should be mentioned in particular. There are also a number of other salts that can be used for heart failure. These include salt No. 1 (Calcium Fluoratum), No. 5 (Kalium Phosphoricum) or No. 15 (Kalium iodatum). The selection of the "right" remedy and the dosage should not be done on your own, but always in consultation with a naturopath or naturopathic doctor. (No)

Tags:  Naturopathy Hausmittel Diseases