What is Hyperhidrosis?
Under many circumstances, sweating is a completely natural response designed to cool the body. As uncomfortable as it may be at times, sweating is a healthy part of life and designed to regulate internal body temperatures. Most often, sweating occurs in response to conditions such as physical activity, warm weather, eating spicy foods, feelings of stress, and even out of anger. However, for approximately 1% of adults, sweating occurs for no apparent reason and at a higher volume. Such individuals suffer from hyperhidrosis, a disorder that leads to extreme sweating in regular activities that do not typically activate your sweat glands. Hyperhidrosis is an excessive sweating medical term for a condition that primarily affects the hands, feet, head, and armpits, but can also affect other parts of the body as well.
Causes of Hyperhidrosis
Hyperhidrosis is caused when the automatic stimulation of your sweat glands is hyperactive. The response to stress, increased temperatures, and other instances may excessively stimulate sweat glands specifically in highly concentrated areas such as the hands, feet, head, armpits, and genital regions.
Profuse sweating causes could be due to genetics or even occur as a response to an underlying health condition. Before diving into reasons for excessive sweating, it’s important to walk through the two different types of hyperhidrosis to understand how profuse sweating relates to specific body functions.
Types of Hyperhidrosis
Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis: With this form of hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating primarily takes place on the head, underarms, hands, feet, and face. Individuals with primary focal hyperhidrosis are typically diagnosed during childhood as the excessive sweating presents during these early years. Causes of sweaty hands and feet in those with primary focal hyperhidrosis is largely due to genetics. In fact, it is estimated that anywhere between 30 to 50 percent of those living with primary focal hyperhidrosis have a family history of excessive sweating. However, for individuals that do not have excessive sweating run in their family, the causes of hyperhidrosis can be unknown.
Secondary Generalized Hyperhidrosis: Unlike primary focal hyperhidrosis, secondary generalized hyperhidrosis results as a side effect to certain medications or is caused by a medical condition. In most cases, secondary generalized hyperhidrosis presents during adulthood. With this form of hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating can take place all over the body or in a single area. It is also possible for sweating to occur during sleep. Some underlying conditions that could be reasons for excessive sweating in individuals with secondary hyperhidrosis include heart disease, diabetes, menopause, anxiety, alcohol abuse, obesity, a tumor, or hyperthyroidism, to name a few. Because profuse sweating causes could be indicative of a number of other health problems, it’s important to get a professional hyperhidrosis diagnosis by your doctor to check for any serious underlying conditions.
In a majority of people, the automatic response to stress and increased temperature does not excessively stimulate the sweat glands; however, people who have hyperhidrosis have hyperactive sweat glands that leads to excessive sweating.
Symptoms of Hyperhidrosis
If your sweating is interfering with daily life activities, you may be asking yourself “Do I have hyperhidrosis?” Because sweating naturally occurs in everyone to regulate internal body temperatures, it can sometimes be difficult to determine if you actually have hyperhidrosis or not. Although a hyperhidrosis diagnosis should be conducted by a medical professional, there are some tell-tale hyperhidrosis symptoms that can give you a better idea if you have the condition or not. We will walk through some major hyperhidrosis symptoms to help you get a better idea if you have it.
- Excessively sweating for at least six months without apparent reason
- Excessively sweating in hands, feet, and armpits
- Sweating from everyday tasks like taking notes in class or shaking someone’s hand
- Sweating that takes place on both sides of the body in roughly the same amount
- Excessively blushing on the face, neck, and upper chest
- Visible sweating that soaks through clothes
- Family history of excessive sweating
- Sweating that interferes with work or relationships
How is it Diagnosed?
Although a list of hyperhidrosis symptoms can give you an idea if you have a condition, it’s always best to get diagnosed by a medical professional. During a hyperhidrosis diagnosis, your doctor may recommend a series of tests including a blood, urine, and sweat test to determine if excessive sweating is caused by hyperactive sweat glands or another condition such as an overactive thyroid, low blood sugar, or other secondary hyperhidrosis causes as previously mentioned.
To identify the areas of hyperactive sweating and the severity of the disorder, your doctor may recommend an iodine-starch test, skin conductance, or thermoregulatory sweat test.
Often times, the stigma against sweating prevents individuals from openly talking about their condition and certainly prevents them from seeking help, but help is available to effectively manage symptoms and live a healthy, happy life. Because hyperhidrosis is a very personal and rarely discussed disorder, many sufferers are unsure of when to seek professional help for their condition. If you are experiencing excessive sweating that is impacting your daily activities, relationships, and overall quality of life, it’s important to know that you are not suffering alone. The Center for Hyperhidrosis offers state of the art hyperhidrosis treatment for those that wish to take back their lives once and for all from this highly disruptive disorder.
Through a multidisciplinary approach to treatment for hyperhidrosis involving highly effective non-surgical and surgical options administered by Board Certified Dermatologists and Thoracic Surgeons, we believe that all patients can obtain relief from their hyperhidrosis symptoms. Contact the Center for Hyperhidrosis in NYC at 212-342-1354 to consult with a knowledgeable expert today and set up a consultation