Heavy sweating or hyperhidrosis… it’s the dilemma of some 2% of the world’s population according to survey. It causes much discomfort and embarrassment; often times affecting people negatively in functional and social settings.
It’s that condition wherein there is an abnormal increase in a person’s sweating status, highly exceeding that perspiration quota required for regulation of body temperature. That condition may either be congenital or acquired. We usually see them fanning themselves vigorously while everybody else is hugging their coats in an air-conditioned office or room. We see them wiping their faces and necks frequently; often times their hands more frequently.
The worse thing is that excessive sweating can affect those who suffer from it on a social, functional, and emotional level. Who could relax and function properly when your body parts keep on sweating, making you feel wet, look wet and irritable? Hence, it is good to understand it well so that we can choose the best remedy for our ordeal!
If you sweat more than other people when it’s hot or after you undertook physical exertion, it’s just normal, ok. We have different levels of sweating. BUT, if if you are sweating excessively without a good reason, as in while you are relax, the temperature is just mild and you have not been exercising or the like, it may signify hyperhidrosis.
- Localized sweating (primary or focal hyperhydrosis) refers to sweating of certain areas like hands, feet armpit and groin; which are the most active regions of sweating due to high concentration of sweat glands. But it isn’t limited to those areas alone; other parts of the body may also be affected like the face and head of the man in the photo.
Primary or focal hyperhidrosis was found to usually start at puberty and seems to be inherited as anautosomal dominant genetic trait.
- Generalized sweating (secondary hyperhidrosis) involves the whole body and is usually the result of an underlying condition and may start at any point in life. Secondary hydrohidrosis may be due to: a disorder in the thyroid or pituitary glands, menopause, pregnancy, tumors, gout, diabetes mellitus, mercury poisoning, alcoholism, obesity, infectious diseases like tuberculosis, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, heart failure, stroke, cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, certain psychiatric medicines, blood pressure medications, medicines for dry mouth, certain antibiotics and some supplements.
Put simply, primary hyperhidrosis is the medical condition itself while secondary hyperhidrosis is caused by some other medical condition or medication; and as such, in most cases, the whole body sweats excessively. Take note, too, that hyperhidrosis is NOT a disease.
Signs and Symptoms :
Uncontrolled appearance of excessive sweating on hand or feet or other body parts at any time, despite being inactive or relaxed. The sweating levels varies from one patient to another. The amazing thing is that patients do not usually have these problems while sleeping, but rather only during their normal daily hours.
Causes of Hyperhidrosis:
Research has it that the common cause is heredity and the most commonly affected areas are the hands (palmar), feet (plantar), armpits (axillary) and the face (facial blushing and or facial hyperhidrosis). However, sweaty armpits and faces are lesser in numbers.
Some surgeons claim it is caused by sympathetic overactivity and nervousness or excitement can aggravate the situation of sweating; likewise, so can certain food and drinks, caffeine, nicotine and certain smells. People who are nervous sweat more; and the more they sweat makes them more nervous.
To illustrate excessive sweating by sympathetic overactivity, a segment of the sympathetic nervous system (an autonomous part of the nervous system on which we have no control) is responsible for this condition. The autonomous nervous system has two parts: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. Those systems affect blood pressure, heart rate, anxiety level and many other functions. Overactivity in the sympathetic nervous system causes sweat glands to release more sweat.
It’s good to know there are several different ways to combat excessive sweating with varying levels of effectiveness . Hyperhidrosis can now be effectively managed through:
- Antiperspirants – prescription antiperspirant sprays, lotions, and roll-ons help control excessive sweating
- Anticholinergics – are oral drugs meant to stop excessive sweating specially in feet and hands.But , sometimes they can lead to such side effects as blurred vision and dry mouth.
- Iontophoresis – uses a light electric current over the patient’s skin to plug the sweat glands,but it is only a temporary solution for excess sweating.
- Botox injections – used to temporarily stop the nerves from triggering excessive sweating underarm, but this can be quite a painful treatment.
- ETS or Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy – a well-known surgical procedure directed at disrupting the sympathetic chain for excessive hand sweating (success rate is 98-99%)
- Lumbar Sympathectomy – surgery for excessive foot sweating
- Subdermal Laser Ablation and Suction Curettage– surgery for excessive armpit sweating
With regards to secondary hyperhidrosis, it is treated primarily by treating the underlying medical condition which is believed to cause excessive sweating.
Note: Be sure to consult with your doctor before making any medical decisions.