Everyone sweats. All of us. You sweat when it’s hot outside. You sweat during a really good workout or while playing sports. You may even sweat when you’re having a bit of personal time with that special someone, if you know what we are saying. Unfortunately, some of us sweat excessively.
Excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis can become a bit of a nightmare as it can not only affect your physical health, but it can also be very taxing on your mental health. But how do you know if you’re sweating too much? What’s the difference between sweating excessively and normal sweating?
In this article, we’ll look at hyperhidrosis from all sides. From hyperhidrosis symptoms to hyperhidrosis diagnosis to hyperhidrosis treatment, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about hyperhidrosis so you can recognize it and possibly learn how to stop excessive sweating.
Excessive Sweating Causes
Excessive sweating can be broken down into two categories as far as causes go. The first cause can be listed as primary hyperhidrosis, and the second category is secondary hyperhidrosis.
1. Primary Hyperhidrosis
The problem with primary hyperhidrosis is that it occurs with no recognizable cause. You are just sweating excessively and it’s not a side effect of some other condition. This type of hyperhidrosis is possibly connected to your genes, but no definitive source has been identified by experts. However, it reportedly has nothing to do with nervousness, anxiety, or similar mental states.
2. Secondary Hyperhidrosis
This type of hyperhidrosis is due to a secondary cause. Conditions like obesity, spinal cord injury, heart disease, and shingles can all cause secondary hyperhidrosis. The difference here between secondary and primary is that getting rid of the underlying disease (like shingles, for instance) would cause the hyperhidrosis to disappear as well.
Now that you know the two different types of hyperhidrosis, let’s examine the symptoms of excessive sweating so you can recognize it.
Hyperhidrosis symptoms can also fall into two different categories: physical and mental. The physical symptoms are easy to spot; the mental symptoms may not be.
1. Physical Symptoms
The physical symptoms can include clammy hands, spontaneous sweats for no obvious reason, and sweat so heavy that it leaks through clothing. If this type of sweating lasts long enough, it can cause issues like skin rashes, fungal infections, and consistent body odor. The unfortunate thing is that all of these outcomes play into the mental symptoms.
2. Mental Symptoms
Regrettably, a number of mental symptoms tend to come along with the physical signs of hyperhidrosis. Because of the large amount of sweat, people who suffer from hyperhidrosis often become self-conscious. The may even become withdrawn, avoiding social functions due to the worry of excessive sweating or odor. They also might worry about changes of clothing a lot more due to the sweat seeping through. All of these symptoms can affect many aspects of life like hanging out with friends, your choice of job, and romantic relationships. The battle with the mind might be tougher than the physical one.
The question then becomes, with the lack of causes for primary hyperhidrosis and a lot of causes for secondary hyperhidrosis, how does a doctor go about diagnosing the problem?
The doctor will most likely start by asking you about your current medical history. This is mainly to rule out any secondary hyperhidrosis causes. The physician may also ask if there is any pattern to the sweating (does it only occur at night or during your sleep, for example). When it is determined that there is no immediate cause for your excessive sweating, the doctor will probably ask you how the sweating is affecting you in social settings and at work. Is it causing you to bring extra clothes when you go out?
The doctor may order a thermoregulatory sweat test for you as well. This test involves a powder that changes color due to moisture on the skin. After the powder is applied, you may be placed in a sweat cabinet to see at what temperature the excessive sweating begins.
If this all comes back to a diagnosis of hyperhidrosis, you can begin to discuss different excessive sweating treatment options, both medical and natural.
Treating Excessive Sweating
There are a few medical and manufactured treatments that can be prescribed for a patient dealing with hyperhidrosis.
1. Undergarments and Clothing
If you are just looking for a way to prevent the sweat from showing or maybe keep you from sweating, changes to your clothing may help. Using underarm shields for example. Switching your clothing to natural fabrics that “breathe” better may also be an option.
The doctor may prescribe for you a medical-grade antiperspirant that can help manage the sweat under your arms.
Botox injections into the nerves that trigger sweat glands can help rid you of the sweats.
In a treatment that sounds much scarier than it actually is, your hands and feet are placed in bowls of water as a mild electric current is passed through them. Experts recommend two to four treatments of 20 to 30 minutes.
5. Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy (ETS)
In a last-ditch surgical method, doctors may decide to cut a nerve that triggers your sweat glands. This cannot be used on hyperhidrosis of the feet, however, due to the high chance that it will cause sexual dysfunction.
6. Anticholinergic Drugs
These drugs can help stop the nerves from triggering the sweat glands and may even clean up your hyperhidrosis within two weeks.
Luckily, if you can’t see a doctor right away, there are a number of home remedies that you can try that might be able to help you out.
Natural Treatments for Hyperhidrosis
There are a few home remedies that may help you dial back the volume of your sweat. These are easy enough to prepare in your own home.
1. Sage Tea and Green Tea
Sage tea and green tea have great effects on excessive underarm sweat due to the magnesium and vitamin B that they contain. Those nutrients can help slow sweat production.
2. Witch Hazel
Used as part of a tea or applied directly, witch hazel may help due to its antiperspirant properties.
3. Natural Vinegar
Two teaspoons of natural vinegar and one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar reportedly helps relieve excess sweating, if you take the mixture three times a day.
4. Fresh Tomato Juice
A daily glass of fresh tomato juice may also help reduce excessive sweating.
The nice thing about these home remedies is they are relatively harmless if they don’t work for you. As long as there are no allergies or health conditions tied to any of the ingredients, you are unlikely to suffer any side effects.
Excessive Sweating: Exhausting Mentally
Excessive sweating is no picnic. It can make you feel gross and cause rashes and skin problems—not to mention body odor. Unfortunately, it probably taxes the mind more than it ever does the body. Now that you have some tools to recognize hyperhidrosis quickly, you can pursue treatment and soon go back to living a regular life.
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Nordqvist, C., “Hyperhidrosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Effective Treatments,” Medical News Today, July 22, 2016, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/182130.php#hyperhidrosis_diagnosis, last accessed April 11, 2017.
“Hyperhidrosis,” Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyperhidrosis/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20030728, last accessed April 11, 2017.