What are Cold Sweats & What Causes Cold Sweating?

November 20, 2020 5 min read

what are cold sweats

Do you ever get a chill, and then suddenly break out into a sweat without exerting yourself? You may be experiencing cold sweats and not even know it. But don’t fret, you are not alone in these experiences as it is a common symptom of various conditions. To fully understand what is happening, it is helpful to know what is cold sweating, the causes of cold sweats, and how to manage them. Keep reading to learn more about cold sweats and the conditions associated with them.

What are Cold Sweats? Symptoms & Signs

You’re likely wondering, what are cold sweats? They are when your body starts to sweat without provocation. This means you can suddenly start sweating without exerting yourself or being outside in hot weather. You may also feel a shiver or chill in your body. Cold sweat mostly happens on your armpits, feet, or hands. Most often, cold sweating does not occur throughout your body and can happen any time of day. Cold sweat symptoms may differ depending on the cause.

What Causes Cold Sweats?

Truth be told, what causes cold sweats varies. Cold sweats are often attributed to an underlying medical condition. Below we identify many common causes of cold sweats.

Anxiety or Stress

Anxiety or stress can cause cold sweats. Anything from chronic anxiety to stressing out about work can cause this to happen. Other symptoms associated with anxiety and stress are vomiting, muscle tension, and inexplicable pain. You should talk to your doctor if these symptoms persist.

what causes cold sweats


Hyperhidrosis is when your body sweats excessively without provocation. It is a medical condition that causes you to sweat about 4 or 5 times more than the average person due to overactive sweat glands. People with hyperhidrosis may also frequently experience cold sweats. Other symptoms associated with hyperhidrosis are typically caused by excessive sweating or an underlying medical condition.

Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)

Hypoglycemia is another word for low blood sugar. It is often linked to diabetes. When your body is low in blood sugar, it can cause cold sweats. Having low blood sugar can be just as serious as having your oxygen cut off. Both lack of oxygen and low blood sugar can cause your body to break into cold sweats.

Hypotension (Low Blood Pressure)

Hypertension is when your blood pressure drops. Low blood pressure is normal when you are resting. But if it gets too low, it can cause cold sweats. Other symptoms include dizziness, blurred vision, confusion, nausea, exhaustion, and even fainting.

Hypoxia (Severe Shortness of Breath)

Severe shortness of breath is called hypoxia. This happens when your organs are not getting a sufficient amount of oxygen. You may experience hypoxia for several reasons, like poor air quality or high altitudes. In addition to cold sweats, symptoms can include difficulties in walking, paying attention, and breathing.

Cold sweats are often attributed to an underlying medical condition.


Some infections can cause you to break into a fever. Those same infections can also induce cold sweats, which are often linked to a breaking fever. One type of extreme infection is called sepsis. This can cause you to go into shock, which also produces cold sweats.

Intense Pain

Severe injuries, such as a broken bone, can cause your body to go into shock and cold sweat. Even if you don’t go into shock, you can still have cold sweats if your organs are cut off from the oxygen they need.


Menopause is when a woman’s menstrual cycle ends. This happens when estrogen and progesterone hormone balances change drastically. During this transition, you may experience cold sweats and/or hot flashes. Other symptoms include difficulty sleeping, weight gain, mood swings, incontinence, and changes in libido.


Migraines are extremely painful headaches that can last for several days. Your body’s reaction to the pain may actualize as cold sweats. In addition to cold sweats, you may also experience sensitivity to light or sound, difficulty speaking, blurry vision, hearing disturbances, dizziness, numbness on one side of your body, and being disoriented. If your symptoms persist, you should talk to your doctor.

Nausea or Vertigo

There are many reasons why you feel queasy or experience nausea. Some common causes are from eating too much or as a reaction to certain medications. Vertigo, or feeling dizzy, can make you feel like everything around you is spinning. It is most commonly caused by an issue with your inner ear’s connection to the brain. Both nausea and vertigo can cause cold sweats.


Shock is your body’s reaction to severe injuries or traumatizing events. When shock occurs, your organs get cut off from the amount of oxygen they need to properly function. When this occurs, you will likely break into cold sweats. Other symptoms of shock include dizziness, high pulse, vomiting, weakness, and rapid breathing.

cold sweats while sleeping

    Cold Sweats While Sleeping

    Cold sweats while sleeping are generally called night sweats. Night sweats occur as bursts of sweating while you are sleeping. They are commonly caused by being too hot while sleeping or from an underlying medical condition.

    Most people experience waking up in cold sweat with their nightwear and sheets drenched in sweat. It can be disruptive and cause problems with sleep. If they persist or you can't manage them yourself, you should talk to your doctor.

    How to Manage Cold Sweats

    You’re probably now wondering how to get rid of cold sweats. The best course of action is to talk with your doctor to determine the cause of your cold sweats. Depending on the outcome, your doctor will look for ways to treat any underlying medical condition first. If it is determined you have hyperhidrosis, your doctor may prescribe medication or medical treatments depending on your symptoms.

    If you are already aware of the condition causing your cold sweats, there are ways you can manage sweating on your own.

    Changing your diet can be effective. Some types of food and drink can cause you to sweat, such as caffeine and processed foods that are hard to digest. Drinking more water helps keep you hydrated, especially your body is sweating more than usual.

    The types of clothes and shoes you wear can also help. Look for fabrics that are either breathable or moisture-wicking. These types of fabric can help sweat evaporate instead of sticking to your body.

    If you regularly experience sweating, protect your clothes from sweat marks and stains. The best way to prevent sweat marks from ruining your clothes is with Ejis sweat proof undergarments (available in our shop or on Amazon.) Our sweat proof boxer briefs and sweat proof undershirts are designed with an ultra-thin waterproof layer to protect your butt, back of the legs, crotch, back, and armpits. The men’s collection also includes Ejis dress socks to combat sweaty or smelly feet.

    This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.

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