Sweat is a normal process where your body tries to cool itself in a hot climate or during states of physical exertion. Sweating is necessary to prevent the body from overheating. Normal sweating is usually not a sign of trouble, but sweating excessively might be a hassle. Excessive sweating, also called ‘hyperhidrosis’, may interfere with day to day activity. It becomes embarrassing, stains clothes, complicates social interactions. In most cases, it is a harmless condition but for many people it is an annoying disorder that affects quality of life. In some cases, excessive sweating might be a sign of a medical condition.
In this post, we would discuss about what is excessive sweating and its causes.
Dr. Monika Misra
What is excessive sweating?
There is no official guideline to differentiate excessive sweating or hyperhidrois from normal sweating. Excessive sweating is when you feel that sweating is interfering your day to day work or social life.
- If you are avoiding shaking hands, as you are self-conscious of sweating.
- If you are not participating in physical activities like dancing, or exercise, as you fear of more sweating in such activities
- If you are spending more time in changing clothes or frequent showers, so as to cope up with sweating
- If sweating interferes while holding tools or mobile set in hands, driving, or working on computer keyboard
- If you are self conscious, embarrassed or socially withdrawn
What can be the causes of excessive sweating?
In many cases, there is no identifiable cause of excessive sweating. It might be due to dysfunction of temperature and sweat control part of nervous system. It may run in families. This type of excessive sweating is called primary hyperhidrois. It is generally localised to underarms, groin, head, face, hands or feet, the areas rich in sweat glands. Sweating occurs symmetrically on both sides. This type of sweating doesn’t pose any medical risk, but may interfere with quality of life as discussed above.
In some cases, there is obvious medical cause that triggers excessive sweating. Such type of sweating is called secondary hyperhidrosis. In such cases, the sweating occurs from all over the body or the sweating is generalised not localised to areas as hands or feet. A number of medical conditions or diseases can trigger such type of sweating include
- thyroid disorder
- low blood sugar
- certain medications like antidepressants, propranolol
- some infections like tuberculosis, HIV
- high alcohol intake or withdrawal of alcohol
- certain blood cancers
- anxiety disorder
Sweating and anxiety have complicated relationship. Anxiety leads to excessive sweating, while profound sweating causes anxiety. This creates a vicious cycle, that is very hard to break.
When to see a doctor?
- if excessive sweating interfering with quality of life and you keep feeling anxious about it. Anxiety further increases sweating which makes the situation worse.
- if you have generalised sweating from all over your body, not only confined at armpits, groin, hand or feet. This type of sweating is usually related to an underlying medical condition.
- if you have night sweats that wakes you up at night or you find your clothes, bedsheets drenched in sweat on waking up
- if you have an asymmetrical pattern of sweating that is if only one feet, palm or armpit is involved
- if excessive sweating is accompanied with other symptoms as chest pain, chills, nausea, high grade fever etc.
Prickly heat – how to get rid of sweat rash?
Sweat rash or prickly rash is one of the most common skin problem you face in scorching heat of summers. In this post, we discuss about sweat rash or prickly rash and how to get rid of it.