5 Main Conditions that Lead to Cold Sweat and Shaking Hands

Every disease is characterized by the appearance of certain symptoms. Symptoms are signals sent by the body to indicate that it is not functioning normally. Excessive sweating and shaking hands and trembling are such symptoms that could indicate a variety of medical conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic attack, hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism, insulin reaction or reaction to a medication, etc. Let’s discuss more about these medical conditions, the associated symptoms and how to deal with them.

What Are the Causes of Cold Sweat and Shaky Hands?  

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder

It’s normal for most people to feel anxious when they are facing an upcoming stressful event or when they are passing through hard times in life. However, people suffering from anxiety disorders tend to feel anxious without any concrete reason. Some of the other symptoms of anxiety include tiredness, restlessness, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, trembling or twitching of muscles and difficulty concentrating.

Cold sweat and shaking hands occur when you are anxious as a part of the flight or fight response or stress response in your body. When you are under stress your body releases stress hormones that travel to various parts of the body and produce symptoms of stress. The symptoms of anxiety persist as long as the stressful event exists.

Treatment includes:

  • Medicines such as anti-anxiety and antidepressant medicines
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Support groups

Self Care:

You can ease the symptoms by:

  • Doing regular exercise
  • Learning techniques of relaxation
  • Eating healthy and well-balanced diet
  • Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep
  • Avoiding caffeine, illegal drugs and alcohol
  1. Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are feelings of fear or terror that suddenly occur in some people without any prior warning. Apart from cold sweat and shaky hands, the other symptoms of panic attack are chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, feeling of choking, dizziness, nausea, tingling or numbness and a rapid heartbeat. People with panic attack disorders constantly live in fear of having an attack.

Treatment includes:

  • Antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and Effexor
  • Mild sedatives like Xanax and Klonopin
  • Psychodynamic therapy or cognitive behavior therapy

Self Care:

You should get treatment of panic attacks by a physician. However, you can do the following to prevent or reduce the attacks:

  • Learn relaxation or breathing exercises
  • Avoid illegal drugs, alcohol or caffeine
  • Get enough sleep
  • Join a support group


  1. Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia occurs when the sugar levels in your blood become too low and your body does not have enough sugar to meet its energy requirements. The symptoms of hypoglycemia occur if your blood sugar levels drop to 70 mg/dl or less.

More symptoms of hypoglycemia include rapid heartbeat, blurry vision, nervousness, mood changes, dizziness, unexplained fatigue, pale skin, hunger and loss of consciousness.

Hypoglycemia commonly occurs in diabetics who are taking medicines. In these people hypoglycemia occurs if they skip a meal, eat very less food, consume more medicines than prescribed or do intense workouts. Untreated hypoglycemia may become life-threatening in diabetics, resulting in coma, seizures and ultimately death.

Other conditions that can cause hypoglycemia include taking a drug called quinine, liver and kidney problems, adrenal gland deficiency, certain tumors and excessive use of alcohol.  


  • If someone is having symptoms of hypoglycemia, they should be immediately given at least 15 gm of digestible carbohydrates. You can give them half a cup of juice, one tablespoon of honey, 3-4 pieces of candy or 1 table spoon of sugar.
  • It is not safe to place solid or liquid food into a person’s mouth after they have lost consciousness.
  • If a person has become unconscious due to hypoglycemia then they should be administered glucagon immediately.  
  1. Hyperthyroidism

Cold sweat and shaky hands are also seen in hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces increased amounts of thyroid hormones T4 and T3. The common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’s disease. It is an autoimmune disorder in which antibodies are produced that cause excess production of thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism also occurs due to other conditions such as excess intake of iodine, inflammation of thyroid gland and tumors of the ovaries and testes.

Excess production of T3 and T4 leads to high metabolic rate, which results in symptoms such as excess sweating, tremors, frequent bowel movements, rapid heartbeat, weight loss, irregular periods, fatigue and difficulty in sleeping. If these symptoms are not treated, severe symptoms may occur, resulting in fever, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, nausea, disorientation, and vomiting.

If you experience any of the above symptoms you should immediately consult your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe medications such as radioactive iodine, anti-thyroid drugs and beta blockers. Surgery is sometimes suggested to remove part of the thyroid gland in case of pregnant women and in certain patients who cannot take anti-thyroid drugs.

  1. Drug Addiction

Cold sweat and shaky hands is also a symptom of drug addiction. Drug addiction is a chronic disease of the brain where an addict exhibits compulsory drug seeking behavior in spite of adverse effects of the drug on their body.  Drug addiction causes changes in the structure and functions of the brain and hence, considered as a brain disease with a high rate of relapse. Initially, a person voluntarily consumes a drug. On long term use, the drug causes changes in the brain that forces the person to lose their self control and seek the drug compulsively. Some people are more prone to addiction than others.

Factors such as genetics, environment and developmental stage in life are some contributing factors to drug addiction. Drugs that are commonly abused include morphine, marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, sedatives, hypnotics and stimulants. There are certain physical and psychosocial symptoms that occur in addicts. These include change in eating habits, staggered walking, cold, sweaty hands and shaky palms, hyperactivity, excessive talking, nausea, vomiting, needle marks on body, irregular heart beat and inability to sleep. Some of the behavioral signs include moodiness, irritability, paranoia, change in attitude and change in grooming habits.

It is better to prevent drug addiction rather than to treat the disease. There are various awareness programs conducted by educational institutions, health are professionals and the government to educate the public especially the youngsters about the dangers of addiction. If you or someone close to you is exhibiting signs of addiction it is recommended that you approach your doctor. There are various rehabilitation centers which will help you overcome your addiction. It has been shown that treating addicts with addiction medications and behavioral therapy will help them overcome addiction easily. The treatment for addiction is usually customized to suit an individual’s needs. The rehabilitation centers usually focuses on each individual patient’s psychological, social and medical problems apart from treating them for their addiction. This will ensure that the person recovers from drug addiction and stays away from drugs for the rest of his life.

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