The UK National Health Service (NHS) reports approximately 3% of the English population suffer from hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating. The International Hyperhidrosis Society reports the same rate of the disorder worldwide. Several options can effectively treat symptoms. The biggest challenge to treating hyperhidrosis, according to the NHS, is patients not seeking medical advice and treatment. (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/182130.php)
What is normal sweat vs. excessive sweat?
Sweating naturally cools the body during exertion or hot weather to maintain normal body temperature. Weather, illness, diet and mental state may affect sweat output in normal people. There is no set amount of sweat considered “abnormal,” according to the International Hyperhidrosis Society. Normal people can sweat from under 1 litre per day to several litres daily depending on their activity.
Excessive sweating exceeds what your body needs to stay cool. In some people, this may be four to five times the amount of sweat they need. Most patients who report excessive sweating are reliably reporting this problem. Other than menopause, there is no normal increase in sweating as we age. Sweating may be abnormal if it occurs only in one area of the body, although excessive sweating can also occur all over the body. Sweating with no identifiable cause is a reliable sign of abnormal sweat production.
What causes excessive sweating?
Doctors find no identifiable cause of excessive sweating. This is called idiopathic sweating. There may be genetic influences that are not identified. This excessive sweating most often appears after puberty.
Other factors may cause excessive sweating, including medical conditions and medication side effects.
• Frey’s syndrome occurs only on one side of the face when certain foods are consumed. It usually occurs after surgery on or near saliva glands.
• Medications for diabetes, thyroid or endocrine system problems
• High blood pressure medication and tricyclic antidepressant medicines
• Some cancers
• Heart Disease
• Lung Disease
How does the doctor decide if the sweating is excessive?
Most people who sweat too much are not ill, and in fact are quite normal. For patients who do seek medical attention, doctors will take a careful medical history and perhaps conduct some tests.
Questions patients will be asked include:
• Do you sweat excessively from your entire body or only from certain small areas of your body?
• Describe the situations or times of day when you notice sweating.
• List the medications you take regularly.
• Have you recently started taking any new medication?
• Have you had any recent surgery?
• Have you recently been ill or had a fever?
• Are you in menopause?
• Do other family members complain of excessive sweating?
How dangerous is excessive sweating?
Most people who sweat too much have no particular illness or condition that causes this to happen. It is generally harmless.
Primary hyperhidrosis or Focal hyperhidrosis:
This type of excessive sweating occurs in the hands, feet, underarms and face in the absence of any identified cause. It is as if the sweat glands are always in the “on” setting, even in the absent of heat, activity or anxiety. Primary hyperhidrosis is the most common cause of excessive sweating. It appears to originate with a minor malfunction in the nervous system, and it may run in families (http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hyperhidrosis-causes-11).
Secondary or generalized hyperhidrosis:
Secondary or generalized hyperhidrosis results in sweating over the entire body or over large areas of the body. It is usually caused by medication or a medical condition. This type of excessive sweating may cause sweating during sleep. It is generally more serious than primary hyperhidrosis (http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hyperhidrosis-causes-11).
Several medical conditions may cause secondary hyperhidrosis. These include:
• Parkinson’s disease
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Substance abuse or alcoholism
• Heart failure
• Some cancers such as leukaemia
• Generalized anxiety disorder
• Heart attack
When to see a doctor for excessive sweating?
See a doctor if you have the following symptoms:
• Night sweats
• Generalized sweating all over the body
• Sweating most from one side of the body
• Sudden changes in sweat production
• Onset of the condition at middle-age or later
• Symptoms begin after starting a new medicine
• Sweating with other symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, increased thirst, increased urination or cough.
• If the sweating is interfering with normal life
Treatments may be as simple as prescription anti-perspirant or as invasive as chest surgery to destroy the nerves that tell sweat glands to produce excess sweat (http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/is-your-excessive-sweating-caused-by-a-medical-problem).
Author Bio: John is an avid traveller and loves reading. It doesn’t matter what topic, everything is interesting to him.