Sweating – Hyperhidrosis

What is Hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis is the medical term used to describe excessive sweating. Excessive sweating can occur throughout the body (generalized) or in specific regions. The hands, feet, armpits (axillae), and groin have the highest concentration of sweat glands (eccrine glands) and tend to be the areas of greatest perspiration.

Excessive sweating may be a sign of a medical disorder, such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, or heart disease. This is more likely if the increase in sweating occurs later in life. However, many people experience hyperhidrosis who are otherwise healthy. This is referred to as “primary hyperhidrosis.” Primary hyperhidrosis usually arises during adolescence and appears to be an inherited trait. People with hyperhidrosis will commonly complain that “I get nervous because I sweat, then sweat more because I get nervous.”

The cause of primary hyperhidrosis is unknown. Anxiety can exacerbate sweating for many people, as can alcohol, caffeine, certain foods, and even some smells.

Some people with hyperhidrosis suffer lifestyle and career challenges. For people with armpit sweating (axillary hyperhidrosis) hiding embarrassing sweat spots under the armpits can limit their arm movements and pose. They may even be forced to change their shirts several times a day. Employees, such as sales staff, who interact with many new people can experience social rejection.

Hyperhidrosis can often be very effectively managed. Your physician will recommend a treatment based in your medical history and personal needs.

Treatment options include:

  • Relaxation and meditation
  • Weight loss
  • Stronger antiperspirants with aluminum chloride
  • Anticholinergic medications (Ditropan)
  • Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS)
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