What Is Excessive Sweating (hyperhidrosis) And How Can It Be Treated?
A broad definition for hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating. And the reality of this medical condition manifests in bodily discomfort resulting in the obvious consequences of flushed appearance, body odor, stained clothing and stinky shoes. For millions of Americans who suffer from this condition, sweaty palms, feet, armpits and foreheads increase under instances of stress or nervousness, making the mere act of shaking hands in a job interview or speaking under pressure a cause of social and professional embarrassment and even ostracism. For some people substances like nicotine and alcohol may enhance the sweaty symptoms and spicy foods, salty foods or even smells can trigger an episode.
Hyperhidrosis can be categorized into two general classifications: 1) primary, also known as, focal or localized hyperhidrosis and 2) secondary or generalized hyperhidrosis. Treatments for the condition depend upon the type, symptoms and severity of the diagnosis.
Primary or focal hyperhidrosis tends to be hereditary, a genetic trait causing over-activity in those parts of the body housing a high concentrate of sweat glands like the armpits, groin, hands and feet. The primary or focal version of this disorder, usually beginning during adolescence, can be further divided into axillary (excessive sweating under the arms) or palmoplantar (sweating of the palms of hands or soles of feet).
Focal hyperhidrosis can be a bit of a vicious cycle as nervousness and tension may cause an onslaught of hyperhidrosis, and the thought of having a bout of sweaty palms or a blushing face may cause the anxiety to be worse thus increasing the symptoms. The highly noticeable physical manifestations of localized hyperhidrosis can impede normal social activities and can have negative emotional and physiological effects on those having to deal with the impairment on a daily basis.
Secondary, commonly known as generalized, hyperhidrosis can involve the entire body and is typically a symptom or by-product of another under-lying condition. This type of hyperhidrosis can occur at any point in life and is often a symptom of lesser maladies as well as more serious diseases, infections and critical injuries.
Treatment of hyperhidrosis can range from high-powered aluminum chloride antiperspirants applied to the skin, to injections of Botox to afflicted areas, to oral medications mostly in the form of anticholinergic drugs. Surgical procedures involve removal or some type of destruction of sweat glands and clamping of the thoracic ganglion which runs alongside the spine. Some people are so desperate for relief from extreme facial blushing and excessive perspiring that the potential relief from surgery outweighs the possibility of side-effects or other unwanted surgical outcomes.
A natural herbal approach to treatment might include plants such as schisandra, sage and white peony in addition to black cohosh and red clover. Herbs that promote sweating should be avoided and include elderberry, linden flower, hyssop, and peppermint.
Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition that can leave emotional and psychological scars. The exact cause of hyperhidrosis is not known and so prevention of the syndrome is not easily actionable. Treatments include topical and oral medications, surgical procedures and natural remedies. But millions of people who deal with this affliction on a daily basis have no other option than to avoid shaking hands, to look away to hide a flushed face, or to keep their arms at their sides to hide rings of perspiration. The next time you see someone suffering from extreme perspiration remember a little compassion may help to lessen the level of anxiety that causes the condition. Learn more about how to stop excessive sweating.