What is diaphoresis?

Sweating bullets? You might be experiencing diaphoresis. View more men's health pictures.
Sweating bullets? You might be experiencing diaphoresis. View more men's health pictures.

You've likely never heard of the term diaphoresis, but you're probably familiar with this one: "sweating bullets." They both describe the phenomenon of profuse or heavy sweating. Whether you use the technical term or slang to describe it, it's something many people have dealt with at various points in life. If you're going through menopause, have a fever that's breaking or are working outside on a hot day, heavy sweating can be normal or necessary. Some people, however, suffer from diaphoresis more than average. When diaphoresis occurs often, it's known as a condition called hyperhidrosis.

Diaphoresis is not the light dew that moistened Scarlett O'Hara's brow; it's heavy-duty perspiration. People who have the problem may often drip sweat or frequently wipe moisture from their hands and face. While there are no health implications to sweating a lot, it can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. It can also be an indicator that something is wrong in your body. Common causes of diaphoresis are anxiety, diabetes, heart failure, overactive thyroid and certain medications. Certain life changes, such as puberty and menopause, can also cause increased sweating. But in many cases, there is no known cause.


It may be heartening to know that your heavy sweating is probably harmless, but that doesn't mean you want to go through life mopping your face with a towel. Fortunately, there are ways to address the disorder -- some you can work on at home, while others may require a doctor's assistance.

The first steps don't deal directly with the perspiration, but will help you manage the effects. These include bathing once or twice a day with soap and water, keeping an extra shirt or other change of clothes at your school or work, adding underarm pads or dress shields to your clothing, changing socks at least once a day, using talc or shoe inserts to absorb moisture from your feet and letting your shoes air out for a day before wearing them again [source: WebMD].

To help prevent the excess moisture from occurring in the first place, you might want to try these steps:

  • Keep stress at bay as anxiety can increase sweating.
  • Reduce the amount of hot beverages, like coffee, that you drink.
  • Use a deodorant that also has an antiperspirant; try putting it on at night before bed as well as in the morning. (Some manufacturers are now making antiperspirants formulated for heavy perspiration.)
  • Explore possible medical solutions with your doctor, such as prescription antiperspirant, iontophoresis, Botox injections and prescription medications.[Source: WebMD]


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • "About Hyperhidrosis." International Hyperhidrosis Society. (Nov. 16, 2010)http://www.sweathelp.org/english/HCP_Hyperhidrosis_Overview.asp
  • "Excessive Sweating: Symptom." Mayo Clinic. Sept. 21, 2010. (Nov. 16, 2010)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/excessive-sweating/MY00075
  • "Heavy Sweating -- Topic Overview." WebMD. Oct. 12, 2009. (Nov. 16, 2010)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/heavy-sweating-topic-overview
  • "Hyperhidrosis." MedlinePlus. June 10, 2009. (Nov. 16, 2010)http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007259.htm