DIAPHORETICS (from Gr., to carry through), the name given to those remedies which promote perspiration. In health there is constantly taking place an exhalation of watery vapour from the skin, by which not only are many of the effete products of nutrition eliminated, but the body is kept cool. Under exertion or in a heated atmosphere this natural function of the skin is increased, sweating more or less profuse follows, and, evaporation going on rapidly over the whole surface, little or no rise in the temperature of the body takes place. In many forms of disease, such as fevers and inflammatory affections, the action of the skin is arrested, and the surface of the body feels harsh and dry, while the temperature is greatly elevated. The occurrence of perspiration not unfrequently marks a crisis in such diseases, and is in general regarded as a favourable event. In some chronic diseases, such as diabetes and some cases of Bright's disease, the absence of perspiration is a marked feature; while, on the other hand, in many wasting diseases, such as phthisis, the action of the skin is increased, and copious exhausting sweating occurs. Many means can be used to induce perspiration, among the best known being baths, either in the form of hot vapour or hot water baths, or in that part of the process of the Turkish bath which consists in exposing the body to a dry and hot atmosphere. Such measures, particularly if followed by the drinking of hot liquids and the wrapping of the body in warm clothing, seldom fail to excite copious perspiration. Numerous medicinal substances have the same effect.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)