Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)
Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating. Your body sweats to regulate its temperature. The amount of sweating is controlled by your sympathetic nervous system.
Sweating is a physiological body function that helps regulate body temperature when we are hot or do exercise. If your sympathetic nervous system is over-active, you may sweat more than you need to, for example, sweating when your body doesn't need to cool down.
There are two types of hyperhidrosis:
- Primary - This type is more common and the cause is not known. The condition can happen all the time, or every now and then. Usually, the condition starts when you are a child or teenager and may last all your life
- Secondary - this type causes sweating all over your body. It is usually caused by a disease that affects your endocrine (hormonal) system such as diabetes or having an over-active thyroid gland. It can also be caused by certain cancers, menopause and obesity.
How is hyperhidrosis treated?
There are several treatments for hyperhidrosis:
- Special antiperspirants - these address underarm hyperhidrosis by making sweat thicker which causes your pores to block
- Iontophoresis - uses a small electric current to stop sweat glands from working. However, the effect is only temporary and the treatment needs to be repeated at least every week
- Injections - block the nerves that control the sweat glands. The injections need to be repeated about every 3-6 months. The body can develop resistance to the drugs used, making the treatment less effective over time. There are risks associated with the long-term use of injections.
- Medication - oral medication to stop your sweat glands from being stimulated
- Thoracoscopic sympathectomy - a surgical procedure to cut or clamp the sympathetic nerves.
Related tests and scans
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