What causes excessive sweating and can it be treated?

Sweating is our body’s natural way of regulating its temperature and cooling down. But for some people, sweating can be abnormally excessive, resulting in clammy hands and damp shirts no matter the weather or their level of activity.

Excessive sweating is also known as hyperhidrosis. It is a common medical concern that can often be embarrassing for those who suffer from it. Typically affecting the underarms, hyperhidrosis can be difficult to hide and may lead to physical discomfort and a lack of self-confidence.

Hyperhidrosis usually isn’t something to be too concerned about unless you’re experiencing secondary side effects. Most people suffering from this condition can go about their normal activities albeit with extra breathable clothes and strong antiperspirants on hand.

But excessive sweating can also indicate underlying health issues, and it can be difficult to know when you should be concerned. This is how you can tell if your sweating is a sign of a bigger problem, and what you can do to treat it.

Your sweating comes on suddenly
Sudden, unexpected sweating could be a sign of stress or anxiety. This type of sweat is caused by a surge of adrenaline as your body’s fight-or-flight response kicks in. It can also be the first sign of a heart attack, so if you suspect that you are seriously ill, you need to reach out for emergency help. However, sudden sweating isn’t always a reason to panic. It can also come on with certain situations such as warmer temperatures, spicy foods, exercise or stress, and doesn’t always indicate a more serious health concern.

Your sweating is accompanied by dizziness
Excessive sweating accompanied by feelings of lightheadedness may signal a drop in blood sugar levels or blood pressure. It’s important to check in with your doctor if you are concerned.

Your sweating is accompanied by insomnia, flushing, chest pain, seizures, fatigue, increased thirst and urination, or flu-like symptoms
Taking stock of your overall health can help determine if excessive sweating is part of a larger issue. Insomnia plus sweating, for example, can be a sign of hyperthyroidism, while sweating accompanied by flushing may signal carcinoid syndrome. If you are experiencing chest pain along with the sweating, it could indicate a serious heart condition; you should always seek medical help for any chest pain.

If you experience sweating and seizures, you may be overdosing on medication, while any signs of fatigue could indicate low blood pressure. Increased thirst and urination is associated with diabetes and blood glucose levels. Sweating accompanied by a fever may reflect a bacterial or viral infection.

Your sweating is accompanied by skin issues
When sweat stays on your skin, you might experience itching or irritation that eventually goes away once you wash your skin or change your clothes. But if you break out in a rash or hives, it could indicate a fungal skin infection or a skin condition such as cholinergic urticaria.

You have started or changed medication
Sweating can actually be a side effect to several medications, including:

  • Stimulants like amphetamines and caffeine
  • Some diabetic medications like sulfonylureas
  • Pain medications including opioids
  • Various psychiatric medications
  • Hormonal medications like birth control pills
  • Thyroid medications
  • Oral steroids

You're having panic attacks
Lots of people sweat in stressful situations, but if your sweating is accompanied by feelings of intense panic or anxiety, check in with a doctor or therapist who can help diagnose any underlying mental health concerns. This is especially important if you are feeling withdrawn, anxious or isolated in social situations because of your excessive sweating.

Did you know? People who experience primary hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating without a cause, have higher rates of anxiety, depression, and attention deficit disorder than the general population.

Sudden weight loss
If you’re rapidly losing weight and sweating excessively, you may have hyperthyroidism or an infection. See your doctor if you have lost weight without trying.

Sweating all over your body
Primary hyperhidrosis refers to excessive sweating that is in specific places like the armpits, face or palms. Secondary hyperhidrosis is all-over body sweating caused by or associated with another disorder. If you’re unsure if your sweating is normal, speak with your doctor.

Sweating only at night
Night sweats unrelated to temperature can be a symptom of tuberculosis, the flu, or even certain types of cancer such as lymphoma. They can also result from hormonal changes like menopause, or from substance abuse and withdrawal.

Sweating only on one side of the body
Uneven sweating on just one side of your body might indicate a nervous system disorder.

Sweating for no apparent reason
If you and your doctor have ruled out all potential underlying medical conditions and other causes, you might simply have overactive sweat glands. This isn’t necessarily a sign of a bigger problem, and there are a variety of treatment options available to help.

Address excessive sweating in the underarms and restore your self-confidence

Botulinum toxin injections are an ideal medical treatment for hyperhidrosis help to block the stimulation of the sweat glands in the underarms, reducing sweat production so you can gain back your confidence and forget about sweat.

If you suffer with excessive sweating, our Aesthetic Doctors can help determine the medical cause of your concerns and offer safe and effective treatments to eliminate excessive sweating and restore your confidence.

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