Sometimes, there’s just no avoiding excessive perspiration. Even though it’s unpleasant, you know it’s normal to sweat a lot after a hard workout or if you’re nervous before a big presentation.
But what if you sweat heavily for no reason? Excessive sweating is a real problem—it may cause you to feel embarrassed, ashamed, and anxious. You may avoid social situations and feel self-conscious when you go out in public. Extra sweat may ruin your clothes and can even lead to skin infections in extreme circumstances.
While some sweating is perfectly normal, excessive sweating is a real medical condition. Known as hyperhidrosis, excessive sweat can affect your personal and professional relationships. Fortunately, there are treatment solutions that can help solve your sweating problem and make life more comfortable.
Why Do You Sweat?
Sweating is actually a perfectly normal body process that’s necessary for your survival. Certain glands in your skin, called eccrine sweat glands, are controlled by your nervous system. When you get too hot, your nervous system causes these sweat glands to secrete water, which travels to the surface of your skin and evaporates. You have eccrine sweat glands all over your body.
This process is incredibly important for thermoregulation (aka keeping your body’s internal temperature just right). Without sweating, you would easily overheat, which could have consequences for your health.
When Sweating Isn’t Normal
You may notice yourself sweating even if the circumstances don’t call for it. Maybe your palms sweat when you’re at your computer or you’re drenched in sweat after only 10 minutes at the gym. You may find yourself wiping your hands before every handshake or avoiding public places because your clothes are soaked. Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, happens even though your body isn’t triggered by rising internal temperatures.
What Is Hyperhidrosis?
There are two types of hyperhidrosis. The first, called primary focal hyperhidrosis or essential hyperhidrosis, usually only affects your hands, feet, and face. If you’re living with this condition, the nerves stimulating your sweat glands are overactive, causing them to produce sweat even though there’s no need to. There’s no medical cause for this condition, but it does seem to run in families, according to Mayo Clinic.
Secondary hyperhidrosis is caused by underlying medical conditions or as a side effect of certain medications, says the American Academy of Dermatology. With secondary hyperhidrosis, you’re more likely to sweat all over your body instead of just your hands, feet, and face. Many medical conditions cause this type of hyperhidrosis, including:
- Thyroid issues
- Nervous system disorders
- Some types of cancer
According to Mayo Clinic, secondary hyperhidrosis is also caused by certain medications, like beta-blockers and some antidepressants. Also, other issues like generalized anxiety disorder or withdrawal from certain substances, like opioids, can cause you to sweat more than normal.
Talking to Your Doctor
Excessive sweating might already interfere with your daily life, and it can be embarrassing to talk about. A conversation with your doctor is the first step in finding an effective treatment.
You should contact your doctor if you notice your sweating is excessive or if you sweat heavily when you shouldn’t. Also, if you notice chest pain, weight loss, fever, or shortness of breath, you should contact your doctor immediately. These symptoms can indicate underlying medical problems that could cause hyperhidrosis.
Depending on your symptoms and medical history, your doctor may recommend certain tests, like blood or imaging tests, to rule out underlying medical conditions that could cause hyperhidrosis. He or she may also recommend a starch-iodine test or paper test to observe and monitor excessive sweat, according to the National Library of Medicine.
Your doctor may recommend one or several treatment options for dealing with hyperhidrosis, including PrecisionTx™. This minimally invasive procedure is usually performed in your doctor’s office. PrecisionTx™ uses a laser to target sweat glands in certain areas of your body, like under your arms, to prevent excessive sweating.
Hyperhidrosis can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, but it doesn’t have to control your life. With your doctor’s help, you can reclaim your confidence and live normally by exploring treatment options that are right for you.