Diaphoretic is the state of perspiring profusely, or something that has the power to cause increased perspiration.
The vast majority of sweat glands in the body are innervated by sympathetic cholinergic neurons. Sympathetic cholinergic neurons are sympathetic postganglionic neurons that happen to release acetylcholine instead of norepinephrine.
Various drugs (including caffeine, morphine, alcohol, and certain antipsychotics) may be causes, as well as withdrawal from alcohol or narcotic painkiller dependencies. Sympathetic nervous system stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines have also been associated with diaphoresis. Diaphoresis due to ectopic catecholamine is a classic symptom of a pheochromocytoma, a rare tumor of the adrenal gland.
Diaphoresis is also seen in an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), from the increased firing of the sympathetic nervous system, and is frequent in serotonin syndrome. Diaphoresis can also be caused by many types of infections, often accompanied by fever and/or chills. Most infections can cause some degree of diaphoresis and it is a very common symptom in some serious infections such as malaria and tuberculosis.
Once pathological and environmental causes of diaphoresis are ruled out by a physician, it is more accurately referred to as hyperhidrosis.