Mr OA has always sweated excessively from his palms and arm pits as far back as his memory could go. He’s suffered series of embarrassments on account of this. The most recent was at a wedding event in a high brow area of the city. The church was richly furnished and generously air conditioned with exotic fans for same measure. Luxury, exquisiteness and comfort chose the interior of the ethereal edifice as a dwelling place. One song followed the other and the festivity climaxed but he crossed a red line having been ‘’lost’’ in the ongoing activity. This worsened the perspiration in the usual sweaty areas. He became the cynosure of all eyes as he was drenched in sweat; as wet as being immersed in water! It was psychologically overwhelming as he excused himself from the ceremony, drove straight home, and his day ended…
What it is
Excessive sweating aka Hyperhidrosis is a condition characterized by abnormally increased sweating, in excess of that required for regulation of body temperature. Sweating is a normal response to heat: you get hot, you sweat, it cools your body down. If you have a fever of some kind, chances are you’ll break out in a sweat as your body temperature is higher than normal.
Normally, the sweat glands produce perspiration that’s carried to the skin’s surface when the air temperature rises, you develop a fever, you’re exercising, or you’re feeling anxious, nervous, or under stress. When those factors are no longer an issue, the nerves that signal sweating are put on hold. For about 1% to 2% of the population who have hyperhidrosis, however, the sweat glands don’t shut off. They sweat even when the circumstances don’t call for it: when they’re in air conditioning, or while they’re sitting and watching television.
• Primary hyperhidrosis (also called focal hyperhidrosis) causes excessive sweating in the hands, underarms, face, and feet without any apparent reason.
• Secondary hyperhidrosis (also called generalized hyperhidrosis) causes excessive sweating all over the body or in a larger area of the body and can be caused by excessive heat as well as a medical condition or medication.
- Only overweight people suffer from excessive sweating Fact; Though commoner in obese people, it affects people of all body sizes
- Putting baby powder under the armpits will stop the sweat Fact; It would absorb some sweat and deodorize, but not stop the sweat
- Sweat smells Fact; Sweat itself does not smell. It is the rapid multiplication of bacteria in the presence of sweat and their breaking down of sweat into acids that eventually causes the unpleasant smell.
Underarms have the most sweat glands.
Fact; Less than 1 percent of sweat comes from the armpits. Sweat cannot escape as easily from this confined space, hence, it creates a pooling effect one may feel more often – or every day for excessive sweaters.
- Men have more sweat glands than women Fact; Women have more sweat glands than men, but the sweat glands of men are more active.
Hyperthyroidism – Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which there are too many thyroid (a gland located in the neck) hormones circulating through the body.
- The symptoms vary widely and are more pronounced in the later stages of the condition. – Hyperthyroidism speeds up the body’s chemical processes, hence the possibility of excessive sweating – Reliable testing is available for the diagnosis and treatment of hyperthyroidism.
- The types of cancer that can sometimes cause sweating include Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes), carcinoid tumours ( a type of slow-growing cancer that can arise in several places throughout the body). leukaemia (blood cancer) mesothelioma (cancer of the lung linings), bone cancer and liver cancer. – It is not fully understand why some cancers cause sweating, but it might be connected to the body trying to fight the cancer. – People with advanced cancer of any type sometimes experience excessive sweating.
- Among the medications that can make this to happen are some psychiatric drugs, some medications for high blood pressure, medicines with which to treat a dry mouth, some antibiotics and some supplements. – If you are experiencing this, it is essential to speak to your doctor about it. Never stop taking prescribed medication without consulting a health professional.
Abnormal blood glucose control
- Glucose control disorders; diabetes and hypoglycaemia (abnormally low glucose levels) – Excessive sweating is often a symptom of low glucose levels
- Many menopausal women report suffering from so-called hot flushes – Some women report hot flushes and sweating during menopause and the runup to menopause. Psychiatric problems – Extreme stress and anxiety disorders can cause excessive sweating. – Anxiety and stress can cause the body temperature to rise, which can lead to sweating. The embarrassment brought about by excessive sweating can lead to more anxiety, which can lead to further sweating – Some psychiatric drugs can also lead to excessive sweating. – Withdrawal from drug addiction can be accompanied by prolonged sweating. Things you can do to help with excessive sweating Dos • wear loose-fitting clothes to minimize signs of sweating • wear socks that absorb moisture and change your socks at least twice a day if possible • wear leather shoes and try to wear different shoes day to day Don’ts • wear tight clothes or man-made fabrics – for example, nylon • wear enclosed boots or sports shoes that may cause your feet to sweat more • do things that might make your sweating worse – for example, drinking alcohol or eating spicy food
How to control excessive sweating
• If you want to keep sweat under control but it’s not bad enough to have you heading for the doctor, try avoiding garlic, anything with excess sodium (such as fast food) and high-fat milk.
Smoking, alcohol and caffeine should be off-limits, too. Nicotine causes our bodies to release a chemical (acetylcholine) that stimulates sweat glands.
Caffeine triggers the central nervous system to send ‘go’ messages to the sweat glands, while alcohol leads to widening of the blood vessels, which carries heat to the surface of the skin.
• Beyond using deodorants and antiperspirants (not recommended for long term use), please visit a doctor as soon as possible.
Excessive sweating can be properly investigated and managed only if you visit the hospital early.