Sweating When Sick

When everything else has gone wrong, and now China Corona Virus hits you between the eyes, you’re wondering why you sweat when you’ve got a fever, well you’ve come to the right place! It feels bad to have a fever, and fever sweating, perspiring makes an uncomfortable experience even worse – but it’s for a good reason. Then add on the night sweats, bed sweats and even severe hot flashes. You actually begin to feel you have the plague or flu. If you female, you would think you are going through menopause.(Just kidding) The discomfort triggers the nervous system to make changes to the way the body normally protects the body. When trying to decide if you should consider sweating out a cold, most people wonder if they can get up to actually do it. Understanding how exercise helps or hurts a cold, well…

Why the Body Sweats

The main reason the human body sweats is critical for survival – to keep its internal temperature regulated. The process that allows the body to keep its internal temperature controlled is called thermoregulation. This helps to explain why people experience fever sweating and night sweats in the middle of the night. The body has many ways to heat itself up, but when it comes to cooling down its internal temperature the body only has one recourse – sweating. The only other way people can cool their body down is by using cooling behaviors like wearing less clothing, seeking cooler environments, and drinking or bathing your entire body in cool water. This makes sweating necessary for thermoregulation. In fact, sweating can release heat from the body at a rate that is more than ten times higher than a resting body can heat itself up. This just means that sweating is a powerful tool the body uses to quickly get rid of heat and maintain a regular temperature and a major side effect of this is night sweats. It can hit all over the body or hit certain areas like underarm sweat or armpit sweat, hand (palm) sweat, foot sweat, forehead (common), back and groin area. These are all types of hyperhidrosis . Sweat glands are all part of our body’s cooling system. All these symptom areas resemble hyperhidrosis, but this is a totally different medical condition. Some people feel that hyperhidrosis is a sweating sickness. Sweat can be in the daytime or even night sweats or hot flashes correlate to the fever. The cause of night sweats is a relationship of fever levels do increase at night. It comes into play when a person gets sick because a fever raises the body’s internal temperature and the body sweats to cool itself back down. Actually sweating a lot is not a bad thing.


What sets cold sweats and night sweats apart from regular sweating is what the patient is doing when the sweating starts. One would expect to sweat after doing a few jumping jacks or push-ups, but cold sweats come on suddenly and at any temperature. Sometimes the sweating happens at night when the patient is trying to sleep. This is often referred to as “night sweats,” but there isn’t any actual difference between night sweats and cold sweats. It’s all diaphoresis and it could be pointing to a larger problem. The sweating starts to become a sweating sickness, kinda like hyperhidrosis. But not the same thing.

Fever Sweating

A healthy person’s body tries to maintain a temperature around 98.6 degrees, although their temperature naturally fluctuates a little throughout the day (usually by .9 degrees). However, this changes when a person develops a fever.
Humans usually develop a fever in response to infection, inflammation, or trauma (fatigue). This underlying cause Fever can be defined as an adaptive response of the body to infection (or inflammation or irritation) in which the body increases its internal temperature above the usual 98.6 degrees. You can tell if you have a fever if your temperature is consistently higher than your normal or above 100.4 degrees. The body often uses fever as a tool to kill off foreign infections, but that is not always the case. The natural treatment option is rest and hydrate.
Once a person’s body starts the fever process it releases chemical messengers called pyrogens into the bloodstream. Pyrogens are part of the immune system and, through a complex chemical process, cause a person’s body to raise in temperature. Once a person has a fever they will often experience symptoms like headache, malaise, lack of appetite, and other sickness behaviors. A person with a fever will also experience heat generating mechanisms like skin vasoconstriction (blood vessels constricting) which leads to chills and goosebumps, shivering, and a desire to be warm. Once a person’s fever runs its course, the body needs to lower its core temperature. Sweating is the body’s only way to cool down so people who are recovering from a fever often experience sweating as a part of that process. Fever sweating may not be fun – but it’s actually a healthy response your body uses to take care of itself and this is why night sweats are so common. This is the body’s way to heal.

Other Situations

Excessive sweating that isn’t related to primary hyperhidrosis or fever (due to an infection or injury) can be a sign of something more serious. At this point it probably isn’t just ordinary fever sweating. Certain diseases and conditions can cause secondary hyperhidrosis. Secondary hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating that is caused by an underlying issue. Some medications do cause secondary hyperhidrosis. It is wise to seek medical assistance if you suspect that you may have secondary hyperhidrosis, a high or long-term fever, or experience excessive sweating accompanied by pallor and/or diaphoresis. “Cold sweats” refers to sudden sweating that doesn’t come from heat or exertion. The medical term for cold sweats is diaphoresis. It comes from the body’s response to stress, called the fight or flight response. It’s very important to recognize cold sweats when providing first aid. It can be a sign of significant injury or illness, among other common causes.


There is no specific treatment of cold sweats. To make them go away, we must treat the underlying cause. For example, if shortness of breath is causing sweats, helping the patient to breathe better and get more oxygen should help dry the skin. In other words, diaphoresis is not the problem; it is the sign or symptom of the problem. Recognizing cold sweats when they happen can help identify a problem before it gets too bad.

Common Causes

Anything that causes a fight or flight response in the body can cause cold sweats. What is done to fix the cold sweats or whatever the sickness is and depends on the cause.


Shock is dangerously low blood flow to the brain and other vital organs. The lack of blood flow delivers less oxygen and nutrients to the brain, which causes stress. Shock is a life-threatening condition and recognizing cold sweats is an important key to identifying shock.
Other things to look for if the rescuer suspects shock would be a sudden, rapid heartbeat, weak pulse, rapid breathing (over 20 breaths per minute), pale skin, and feeling weak or woozy when sitting up or standing.2
Shock doesn’t just happen, either. Cold sweats after a mechanism of injury like a car accident or a fall is enough of a concern to call 911. In the meantime, let the patient lie flat on his or her back and elevate the feet about 8 to 12 inches. Can also be from low blood sugar, heart palpitations or overall health issues. A health care provider should be contacted for help and evaluation.


Any infection that causes a fever can lead to cold sweats. It’s common for cold sweats or true night sweats come on as a fever “breaks” or starts to go back down. Really severe cases of infection, called sepsis, can lead to shock and therefore also to cold sweats. If the cold sweats come on without any preceding fever, or they are accompanied by the symptoms listed with shock above, call an ambulance.


Another drop in blood pressure called syncope, which often causes fainting, can lead to diaphoresis. Many people will start sweating with severe or sudden nausea or vertigo. This is very similar to shock and lying flat on the back with the feet elevated also works for this. Call an ambulance for syncope.

Shortness of Breath

Severe shortness of breath can lead to a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream. When the patient’s brain begins to crave oxygen, a stress response is triggered, causing cold sweats, among other things. Look for other signs of shortness of breath in a patient with cold sweats, like fatigue with very little exercise or pursed-lip breathing. If the patient has oxygen, make sure it is on and call an ambulance.

Some activity will actually boost your body’s metabolism, as well as the body’s immune response, but a intense workout actually has an opposite effect. When the body is “over worked”, the body actually will release chemicals to repair itself to control the stress the body is under. One of the chemicals is steroids. Steroids actually decrease the ability of the cells that fight off infections to work and lower the immunity, temporarily.

If you’re wondering how much is too much, it’s considered mild to moderate, low impact for short periods of time. (30 minutes or less) For example, walking, light jogging, Yoga and/or meditation. You want to keep your body temperature in check and added excess perspiration low. Remember, hydration is key, Drink plenty of fluids, and keep electrolytes in check. Sports drink are even good, they have sugar which is good during the flu. Stay away from the caffeine and alcohol, they likely cause dehydration. Avoid dehydration at all cost.
There are certain foods you need to eat, like broth, chicken soup, yogurt, vitamin C enriched fruits, leafy greens, broccoli and oatmeal.

Germs at the Gym

Health conditions can be an issue when attending. Bacteria is everywhere. Remember a cold or flu can easily spread from person to person in indoor gyms. So take disinfectant wipes and use everywhere. Take no chances. Healthy lifestyle can change the outcome on how long the duration will be.
If you are going outside, check outside, you want to avoid really hot or really cold environments that can change your core body temp. One alternative might be a good walk on a treadmill.

Post-Illness Return to Activity

Once the symptoms become mild, the night sweats start to decrease and the hot flashes subside then the sweating sickness should become a thing of the past.
There is no hard guidance on how to return to work, your daily life or your exercise routine, just keep in mind that you have used up your reserves inside of you that have used to get you back to health. If you try to go back too soon, you risk the chance that the sickness will return, and the heartache of the night sweats, hot flashes and your quality of life is out the door.

If you do find yourself dealing with hyperhidrosis issue, underarm sweat, hand sweat, there are strong clinical strength antiperspirants to assist you to getting rid of excessive sweat. Hyperhidrosis is no fun and embarrassing. Sweating outside of having the flu is from the sweat glands over acting, and deodorants don’t do the job. Contact your pharmacist or dermatologist to discuss your treatment options, like specific medicines or other treatment options. A dermatologist is the most trained on treating hyperhidrosis or excessive sweat.

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