Treatments for hyperhidrosis

What Is Hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis means excessive sweating. It can occur in one part of the body or affect the whole body. Sweating is controlled by parts of the brain that send signals along nerves to small sweat glands in the skin.

Symptoms of hyperhidrosis are visible sweat, wet clothes or a wet handshake. Hyperhidrosis affects the water-producing ("eccrine") sweat glands, and not the "apocrine" sweat glands which produce the more oily type of sweat which causes odor, especially under the arms. This means that odor is not a direct result of hyperhidrosis.

Sweating is important to control body temperature, during times when the body is too hot. It is regulated by the sympathetic nervous system. But, in some people this is works overtime, causing sweating to occur when it is not necessary. It is the Thoracic Sympathetic Ganglion Chain, which runs along the vertebra of the spine inside the chest cavity, which is central to this process. The chain controls the glands, known as the apocrine, and eccrine glands, responsible for perspiration all through the body. Depending on which part of the chain becomes overactive, different sections of the body become affected.

Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition of someone who has excessive sweating. It is characterized by excessive sweating of the palms (palmar hyperhidrosis), armpits (axillary hyperhidrosis), feet (plantar hyperhidrosis), face (facial hyperhidrosis), or overall excessive sweating. People with hyperhidrosis may sweat even if the temperature is cool or they are resting. It is not a temporary condition. Hyperhidrosis usually triggers from adolescence, from then on it does tend to improve slowly with age. Hyperhidrosis patients are split into two groups, when sweating occurs as a result of another medical condition it is called Secondary Hyperhidrosis, otherwise it is referred to as Primary hyperhidrosis. Primary hyperhidrosis affects 2 - 3% of the population. Men and women are both affected equally. In the majority of primary hyperhidrosis cases it difficult to find a cause, however it does seem to run in the family. Secondary hyperhidrosis could be caused by the following conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Acromegaly
  • Anxiety conditions
  • Glucose control disorders
  • Carcinoid syndrome
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Certain medications and substances of abuse
  • Heart disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Lung disease
  • Menopause
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Stroke
  • Tuberculosis or other infections

If excessive sweating has started up post adolescences then this may signal that one of the above conditions may be a cause. Also Certain situations may worsen the effect of sweating, such as anxiety, spicy food, nicotine, caffeine, certain smells or of course heat. Sweating itself can be a cause for more sweating, as a hyperhidrosis sufferer gets nervous because they sweat, then more sweating occurs as they are nervous about sweating.

There are various treatments for hyperhidrosis available, which vary depending upon the type of hyperhidrosis and vary on their efficacy.