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What Is Excessive Sweating?
Sweating is normal for everyone. It is a natural response of the body when cooling down in hot climates or after exercise. Some people also sweat when they experience stressful situations or high pressure. However, some people sweat excessively for no clear reason.
In some cases, excessive sweating affects the whole body, however, it can also be localised to particular areas such as the palm of the hands. Whatever your case is, it is typically harmless so you shouldn’t worry about it. However, it can cause embarrassment especially when the sweat marks the clothing. It is still advisable though to keep an eye on excessive sweating because it could be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.
Excessive sweating is also known as hyperhidrosis. It has a few different categories. Focal hyperhidrosis refers to excessive sweating in specific areas of the body like the palms or the soles. On the other hand, if it affects the entire body, it is called generalised hyperhidrosis. It is also categorised based on its cause. Primary idiopathic hyperhidrosis means the cause is unknown while secondary hyperhidrosis means it is related to an underlying medical problem.
What Causes Excessive Sweating?
To determine the cause, you must identify the type of excessive sweating you have. Primary hyperhidrosis is not yet well-understood and the cause is not that apparent. Research suggests it may be traced back to genetics, while other views relate to a person’s mental and emotional wellbeing. However, this can be comparable to the chicken-or-egg argument, because any primary hyperhidrosis sufferers’ would feel stress or anxiety probably due to the condition.
On the other hand, secondary hyperhidrosis can have a lot of known possible causes. In some cases, weight-related causes may result in excessive sweating such as obesity. Other causes may also include gout and diabetes, pregnancy, anxiety and heart disease. Certain cancers, infections and medications have also been known to result in excessive sweating, and alcohol or substance abuse can also contribute to the condition.
Whatever the type of hyperhidrosis you have, it is still believed that genes have an influence. Studies have shown that hyperhidrosis is inherited through generations. Most of the time, more than one family member suffers the same condition.
What Is The Treatment For Excessive Sweating?
There are a few steps you can practice to lessen the effects of excessive sweating. Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes and synthetic fabrics. Choose loose-fitting designs instead. Switch your shoes daily and try to use leather ones. Stay away from enclosed or sporty designs as possible to minimise sweat. Lessen the intake of alcohol and limit the consumption of spicy foods as these two can make sweating worse.
You can also use over-the-counter products for hyperhidrosis. Choose strong antiperspirants instead of the regular deodorant. If excessive sweating affects the feet, you can try to use foot powders. If you have tried these and found that they did not work, then you can try the medical alternatives such as tablets, botox injections or in extreme cases, surgical removal of sweat glands.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Excessive Sweating And Hyperhidrosis?
Sweating is a normal human body function. However, a small percentage of the population suffers from excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis. These terms refer to high levels of sweat produced, which may be unpleasant in social and practical situations.
There is no specific definition of excessive sweating, but if your sweating makes you uncomfortable or poses a problem you should consult your doctor.
Prolonged bouts of excessive sweating with no obvious cause are called hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis is limited to a specific area of the body such as the hands or the face, as opposed to excessive sweating which occurs all over your body.
What Kinds Of Hyperhidrosis Are There?
Hyperhidrosis includes several different types of excessive sweating. Around 1% of people in the UK suffer from one form of hyperhidrosis. Unlike sweating which affects the entire body, hyperhidrosis usually occurs in the underarms, hands, face or feet.
Some people suffer from hyperhidrosis only during sleep. This form of excessive sweating is called nocturnal hyperhidrosis. This condition may wake you up at night due to damp beddings. This condition usually affects adults going through hormonal changes such as menopause.
Since symptoms are straightforward, diagnosis is simple. However, your doctor may order additional tests to see if hyperhidrosis is a symptom of an underlying condition such as an overactive thyroid.
How Is Excessive Sweating Diagnosed?
There are no specific guidelines for identifying excessive sweating. If you feel your sweating habits are interfering with your everyday life, you may be suffering from hyperhidrosis. Some of the examples include:
- You avoid physical contact such as handshakes
- You avoid physical activities such as dancing or exercising
- You have trouble performing your job (using a keyboard, steering a wheel…)
- You spend a lot of time trying to prevent sweating by frequently showering and changing your clothes.
What Causes Excessive Sweating?
In most cases, there is no obvious cause for excessive sweating. It is often linked to the nervous system or the part that regulates sweating. If the cause cannot be identified, it is referred to as primary hyperhidrosis. If there is an apparent cause, the condition is referred to as secondary hyperhidrosis.
Secondary hyperhidrosis may be caused by a variety of triggers including:
- Overactive thyroid gland.
- Certain treatments.
- Some types of infections.
Will Hyperhidrosis Last My Whole Life?
In the majority of cases, hyperhidrosis starts in puberty and does not go away. In fact, it might become more of an issue with age. However, some people who had excessive sweating report the condition went away later. This does not mean everyone will have the same experience.
There is no cure for hyperhidrosis, but adopting certain lifestyle changes and using excessive sweating treatments will help reduce the effect hyperhidrosis has on your life.
How To Treat Excessive Sweating?
There are several excessive sweating treatment options available, depending on how severe your case of hyperhidrosis is.
There are antiperspirants that are made specifically for people suffering from excessive sweating with 10 to 20% of aluminium chloride. Regular antiperspirants usually contain 5% aluminium chloride for reference.
How To Prevent Excessive Sweating?
Sadly, there is little you can do to prevent excessive sweating. However, you can affect the severity of the symptoms by following the listed steps:
- Avoid known sweating triggers such as spicy food and alcohol
- Use an antiperspirant instead of a deodorant
- Avoid tight clothes and artificial materials such as nylon
- Use an armpit shield to protect your clothes by absorbing the excess moisture
- Wear leather shoes
- Swap out your footwear several times throughout the day
What Lifestyle Changes Can Minimize Excessive Sweating?
Apart from using the treatments mentioned above, there are certain lifestyle changes you can adopt to minimize the impact of excessive sweating on your life.
- Reduce the intake of alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and spicy foods. They are known to increase perspiration.
- Foods like onion, garlic and fish give your sweat an unpleasant odour.
- Synthetic materials will make you sweat more. Use natural fabrics whenever possible.
- Change your clothes regularly.
- Mind the colour of the shirts you wear, since some colours will make your sweat stand out.
Is There A Cure For Excessive Sweating?
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for excessive sweating. However, there are treatments available that are going to help you manage the symptoms.
A combination of these treatments will help ease the symptoms and help people with excessive sweating live with the condition.
What Are The Long-Term Effects Of Excessive Sweating?
Hyperhidrosis is a chronic condition that affects people since puberty. The condition usually occurs on its own, in which case it is not harmful and will not affect your health.
The effects of hyperhidrosis are psychological. Excessive sweating may lead to social anxiety and affect your self-esteem. All of these can affect your quality of life, including your work, relationships and family life. If you are anxious about excessive sweating, talk to your doctor about possible solutions.
Excessive sweating is not commonly linked to usual sweating triggers such as the temperature or the weather. However, it can be affected by stressful social interactions such as job interviews or social events.
Hyperhidrosis is not likely connected to any other health issues. However, secondary hyperhidrosis may occur due to an underlying medical condition like diabetes or underactive thyroid, in which case you should work with your doctor to determine what it is. Some of these conditions may be life-threatening if kept unchecked.