What Are the Causes of Sudden, Severe Perspiration?

Numerous conditions may cause sudden, severe perspiration. Perspiring or sweating -- the release of a salty liquid from the body's sweat glands -- helps cool the body and is an essential body function. In some individuals, however, sudden and severe sweating may indicate a serious underlying health condition or disorder. If you perspire for no apparent reason, visit your physician for an evaluation.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


Hyperthyroidism is a thyroid condition that can cause sudden, severe perspiration. The thyroid gland is a 2-inch long gland that is shaped like a butterfly and sits within the front of your neck. Hyperthyroidism -- also known as thyrotoxicosis -- is a disorder in which the thyroid gland produces an excessive amount of thyroid hormone. Approximately 1 percent of Americans have hyperthyroidism. Women are more commonly affected by this condition than men.

Panic Attack

A panic attack is a common cause of sudden, severe perspiration. This condition causes a sudden bout of intense fear that manifests for no apparent reason. Panic attacks often cause extreme physical reactions. You may feel as though you are losing control, suffering a heart attack or even dying. You may suffer only one or two panic attacks during your life, but some people experience repeated episodes associated with a chronic condition known as panic disorder. Common signs and symptoms associated with a panic attack include:

  • excessive sweating
  • the feeling of impending doom
  • elevated heart rate
  • trembling
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • abdominal cramping
  • chest pain
  • dizziness

Heart Attack

A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, is a potentially life-threatening cause of sudden, severe perspiration. Heart attack is the number 1 killer of men and women in the United States. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a portion of the heart is obstructed or blocked 2. Without oxygen and nutrients, part of the heart muscle dies. The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary artery disease -- a condition in which plaque accumulates on the inner walls of the blood vessels that deliver blood to the heart 2.