disorder is a condition that results in excessive sweating. This
sweating can occur in unusual situations, such as in cooler weather, or without
any trigger at all. It can also be caused by other medical conditions, such as
menopause or hyperthyroidism.
Hyperhidrosis can be uncomfortable. However, several
treatment options can provide some relief.
About 3 percent of Americans suffer from primary
focal hyperhidrosis. Many don’t seek treatment because they don’t realize they
have a treatable medical condition.
and Causes of Hyperhidroses
Sweating is a natural response to certain conditions, such
as warm weather, physical activity, stress, and feelings of fear or anger. With
hyperhidrosis, you sweat more than usual for no apparent reason. The underlying
cause depends on which type of hyperhidrosis you have.
Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis
Sweating mainly occurs on your feet, hands, face, head, and
underarms. It usually starts in childhood. About 30 to 50 percent
of people with this type have a family history of excessive sweating.
Secondary Generalized Hyperhidrosis
Secondary generalized hyperhidrosis is sweating caused by a
medical condition or as a side effect of certain medications. It generally
starts in adulthood. With this type, you might sweat all over your body, or in
just one area. You might also sweat while you’re sleeping.
Conditions that can cause this type include:
- heart disease
- adrenal gland disorders
- spinal cord injuries
- lung disease
- Parkinson’s disease
Several types of prescription and over-the-counter
medications can cause hyperhidrosis as well. In many cases, sweating is a rare
side effect that most people don’t experience. However, excessive sweating is a
common side effect of antidepressants such as:
People who take pilocarpine
for dry mouth or zinc as a mineral dietary supplement can also experience
of Excessive Sweating
Symptoms of excessive sweating include:
- excessive sweating that has occurred for at
least six months without an apparent reason
- sweat that occurs on both sides of your body in
roughly the same amount
- incidents of excessive sweating at least once a
- sweating that interferes with your daily
activities (such as work or relationships)
- sweating excessively began when you were younger
than 25 years old
- you do not sweat in your sleep
- a family history of hyperhidrosis
These factors might indicate that you have primary focal
hyperhidrosis. You’ll need to see a doctor for a more accurate diagnosis.
Sweating all over or excessively in one area might indicate
that you have secondary generalized hyperhidrosis. It’s important to see your
doctor to find out the underlying cause.
Some conditions associated with excessive sweating can be
serious. Make sure to let your doctor know if you’re experiencing any other
unusual symptoms along with sweating.
Should I Call My Doctor?
Excessive sweating can be a symptom of other, very serious
conditions. Call your doctor right away if you experience:
- sweating and weight loss
- sweating that mainly occurs while you sleep
- sweating that occurs with a fever, chest pain,
shortness of breath, and rapid heartbeat
- sweating and chest pain, or a feeling of
pressure in the chest
- sweating that is prolonged and unexplained
Is It Diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask questions about your sweating, such as
when and where it occurs. They’ll also perform certain tests, such as blood and
urine tests, to determine if you have hyperhidrosis.
test involves putting iodine on the sweaty area. Starch is
sprinkled on this area when the iodine dries. If the starch turns dark blue,
you have excess sweating.
A paper test involves
putting a special kind of paper on the sweaty area. The paper is weighed after
it absorbs your sweat. A heavier weight means you’ve sweated excessively.
Your doctor could also prescribe a thermoregulatory test. Similar to the
starch-iodine test, this test uses a special powder that’s sensitive to
moisture. The powder changes color in areas where there is excessive sweating.
You might sit in a sauna or sweat cabinet for the test. If
you have hyperhidrosis, it’s likely that your palms will sweat more than
expected while in the sweat cabinet.
Options for Excessive Sweating
Several treatment options can treat excessive sweating.
Your doctor might prescribe an antiperspirant containing
aluminum chloride. This antiperspirant is stronger than those available
over-the-counter and is often used to treat mild cases of hyperhidrosis.
This procedure uses a device that delivers low-level
electrical currents while you’re submerged in water. The currents are often
delivered to your hands, feet, or armpits to temporarily block your sweat
Anticholinergic drugs can provide relief for generalized
sweating. These drugs, such as glycopyrrolate,
prevent acetylcholine from working. Acetylcholine is a chemical your body produces that helps
stimulate your sweat glands.
These drugs take about two weeks to work and may cause side
effects such as constipation and dizziness.
Botox (Botulinum Toxin)
Botox injections may be used to treat severe hyperhidrosis. They
block the nerves that stimulate your sweat glands. You usually need several
injections before this treatment becomes effective.
If you only have sweating in your armpits, surgery might be
able to treat your condition. One procedure involves removing the sweat glands
in your armpits. Another option is to have an endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy. This involves severing the
nerves that carry messages to your sweat glands.
You can also try to reduce sweating by:
- using over-the-counter antiperspirants on the
- bathing daily to get rid of bacteria
- wearing shoes and socks made from natural
- letting your feet breathe
- changing your socks frequently
Outlook for Excessive Sweating
Primary focal hyperhidrosis is a treatable condition. Your
doctor will help you develop a treatment plan so you can manage your symptoms.
Excessive sweating caused by an underlying condition may go
away when that condition is treated. Treatments for secondary generalized hyperhidrosis
depend on the underlying condition causing your sweating. Talk to your doctor
if you think your sweating is a side effect of a medication. They’ll determine
if it’s possible for you to switch medications or lower the dosage.