The Relationship Between Alcohol and Sweating

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What Causes You to Sweat While Drinking Alcohol?

Alcohol consumption can lead to a variety of side effects. One of them is sweating.

Here are six reasons why you might sweat while (or after) drinking alcohol: 

1. Metabolism Boost

Your body has to process the alcohol you drink. The more you drink, the more you have to metabolize.

When your body is metabolizing alcohol, you might sweat. A rise in metabolic rate is linked to increased body temperature.6

2. Blood Vessel Dilation

Alcohol can cause your blood vessels to dilate because it can make you feel warm. This means that the blood vessels at the surface of your skin widen. They do this to let heat out through your sweat glands.10

When your blood vessels dilate, you might also feel sweaty. This is because you sweat to increase heat loss.9

3. Hypothalamus Activation

The hypothalamus is a region of your brain that controls your nervous system and body temperature.

Alcohol affects this part of your brain, which means it can cause changes in body temperature. When it does, you may sweat in response.8

4. Alcohol Withdrawal

If you quit drinking alcohol cold turkey—and are dependent on it—you can go into withdrawal. You can also go into alcohol withdrawal if you significantly cut back on excessive use.2 

One symptom of alcohol withdrawal is sweating, among many others.  

Alcohol withdrawal can be severe and potentially life-threatening. This is why it is important to seek professional treatment for alcohol misuse and addiction.

Other symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:3

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability 
  • Mood swings
  • Jumpiness
  • Trembles
  • Brain fog
  • Clammy skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • InsomniaNight sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Agitation
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Severe confusion

5. Alcohol Intolerance

If you have an alcohol intolerance, alcohol consumption can lead to unpleasant side effects. 

An alcohol intolerance means that your body cannot break down alcohol well.1

Some people are more prone to alcohol intolerance than others. Alcohol intolerances are typically genetic. 

The only way to prevent the symptoms of alcohol intolerance is to avoid drinking alcohol. The most common symptoms include a stuffy nose and flushed skin. But sweating can also be a symptom.1

6. Other Causes

Of course, there are other reasons as to why you might sweat while drinking alcohol. For example, you might be sweaty due to your drinking environment.

If you are drinking outside in the sun, you might sweat from the heat. 

You might also feel hot if you are drinking in a small, crowded bar with poor ventilation. 

Drinking a warm alcoholic drink may cause you to sweat. Some alcoholic beverages like spiked cider and mulled wine can be very hot.

Also, some people drink alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with social anxiety. One common symptom of anxiety is sweating. So you might sweat while drinking from anxiety—not alcohol.

Alcohol Withdrawal and Night Sweats 

One symptom of alcohol withdrawal is night sweats. This happens because alcohol affects how your nervous system functions, as well as how your body regulates and senses temperature.7 

Night sweats are especially common among delirium tremens (DTs). This is a severe type of alcohol withdrawal. It involves sudden and severe symptoms that affect the nervous system.4

Other withdrawal symptoms like changes in blood pressure and heart activity can also cause night sweats.

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Alcohol Intolerance and Night Sweats 

Alcohol intolerance can cause night sweats. This is because your body has a difficult time breaking down the alcohol you consume.

While it is rare for an alcohol intolerance to be fatal, the symptoms can be very unpleasant.

If you are someone who struggles with alcohol intolerance, avoid alcohol altogether. Night sweats are not the worst of your worries.

Hangover Hot Flashes and Sweating

A hangover is a set of mental and physical side effects from one session of heavy drinking. It occurs when your body’s blood alcohol content drops back to zero.5

The symptoms of a hangover include hot flashes and sweating. Most hangovers only last a few hours. Some can last for upwards of two days.

Tips for Managing Alcohol Sweats

Here are some tips to manage the alcohol sweats.

  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated can help your body regulate temperature.
  • Replenish lost electrolytes. Electrolytes can be especially replenishing and hydrating.
  • Be mindful of how much you drink. Pace and limit yourself. The faster and more you drink, the worse your symptoms are likely to be.
  • Seek professional help. If you are struggling with an alcohol dependence, seek professional treatment. Quitting an alcohol addiction alone is neither easy nor safe. Help is available.
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When is Treatment Necessary? 

If you are experiencing excessive sweating from drinking alcohol, it is best to try to cool down. You will want to regulate your body temperature by drinking fluids.

Profuse sweating can be dangerous because it can dehydrate you. If you experience severe sweating that does not subside, seek medical advice from licensed medical professionals.

If you are experiencing alcohol poisoning, you will need emergency medical help. An alcohol overdose can lead to serious medical conditions and, in the most severe form, death.

Symptoms & Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD), you are not alone. In fact, 14.1 million adults in the United States suffer from AUD. Alcohol addiction treatment is available to help.11

Inpatient and outpatient treatment can help you recover. They offer support from doctors and mental health professionals who stay with you every step of the way.

Therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), counseling, family therapy, and other types can also help you work through the triggers that drive you to drink. 

Working with a mental health expert can help you adopt healthier coping mechanisms to deal with triggers.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), among other support groups, can also help. They exist so you don’t have to go down the road to recovery alone. Leaning on other people who have been in your shoes, or who are on similar journeys, can make a big difference. 

In fact, some research suggests that support groups can be even more effective than therapy in helping people achieve sobriety.

Certain medications may be used to stop alcohol cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms. There are currently three types of medications that are approved in the United States to treat alcohol use disorders.11 

These medications can help you cut back on alcohol or prevent a relapse if you are already sober.11 They include:

  • Naltrexone, which helps people reduce drinking 
  • Acamprosate, which aids in abstinence
  • Disulfiram blocks the body’s breakdown of alcohol, which can cause undesirable symptoms that, ideally, discourage drinking

Reach out to your healthcare provider to talk about your options. It is not safe to try to quit an alcohol addiction alone—and you don’t have to.

Updated on December 4, 2021
11 sources cited
  1. Alcohol Intolerance.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 Apr. 2020.
  2. Alcohol Withdrawal.” Harvard Health, 22 Apr. 2019.
  3. Alcohol Withdrawal: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  4. Delirium Tremens: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  5. Hangovers.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  6. Landsberg, Lewis, et al. “Do the Obese Have Lower Body Temperatures? A New Look at a Forgotten Variable in Energy Balance.” Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, American Clinical and Climatological Association, 2009.
  7. Night Sweats and Alcohol: Causes and Treatment.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International.
  8. Rachdaoui, Nadia, and Dipak K Sarkar. “Pathophysiology of the Effects of Alcohol Abuse on the Endocrine System.” Alcohol Research : Current Reviews, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2017.
  9. Skin Blood Flow in Adult Human Thermoregulation: How It Works, When It Does Not, and Why.” Mayo Clinic.
  10. Tan, Chan Lek, and Zachary A Knight. “Regulation of Body Temperature by the Nervous System.” Neuron, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 4 Apr. 2018.
  11. Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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