Excessive Sweating – Complete Guide to Causes, Treatments & Diagnosis
Did you know that about 1% to 2% of the world’s population suffers from excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis). With this site there is thorough, comprehensive, and up to date information for excessive sweating, its causes, best treatments, commonly asked questions and much more. Excessive sweating, or as its known in medical literature as hyperhidrosis, is a clinical condition where parts of the body are sweating beyond the bodies physiological needs.
Symptoms of hyperhidrosis:
The typical presentation of excessive hand sweating or foot sweating is the uncontrolled appearance of sweat. It can happen at any time without any identified reason. Usually patients do not have these problems while sleeping but during their normal daily hours it can happen. It can affect people negatively in functional and social settings. Obviously the sweating levels are different from one patient to another but none the less the affects can be significant to those affected. There is no connection between being anxious or active because this condition can happen at times when the person is not active or anxious. This represents the autonomous nature of the sympathetic nervous system which is an involuntary one compared to the motoric or sensory nervous systems which are voluntary systems.
Causes of Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis):
It is commonly an inherited condition and can affect those who suffer from it on a social, functional, and emotional level. The good news is, there are several different ways to combat excessive sweating with varying levels of effectiveness depending on the severity of the excessive sweating problem. Use the list of links on the left to cover all relevant topics ranging from hand sweating to armpit sweating.
The very basic explanation for excessive sweating is that a segment of the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for this presentation. What is the sympathetic chain you may ask? This is an autonomous part of the nervous system on which we have no control. The autonomous nervous system has two parts to it, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. Those systems affect blood pressure, heart rate, anxiety level and many other functions. Commonly affected areas of the body are the hands (sweaty hands – palmar), feet (sweaty feet – plantar), and armpits (axillary). The armpits and face represent a smaller groups of patients.
Treatment of Hyperhidrosis:
Different methods have been used to treat excessive sweating such as herbal medications, different oral medications, lotions, and injections of botox. All of the above had limited success and if successful only for a limited periods of time. Dr. Reisfeld based in Los Angeles at The Center for Hyperhidrosis is probably the most experienced surgeons in the U.S. that offers the most in depth site on the surgical solutions.
At present there are a few good surgical options for the treatment of excessive hand sweating. The most well-known surgical procedure is something called ETS which stands for Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy. With this method the specialized surgeon enters the thoracic cavity and disrupts the sympathetic chain responsible for excessive hand sweating. This is an outpatient procedure and the patient can go home the same day. The success rate is around 98-99% for excessive hand sweating.
For excessive foot sweating a new procedure known as lumbar sympathectomy was developed since about 2005. With this procedure people who suffer specifically from excessive foot sweating OR did not get enough relief via the ETS procedure then this procedure provides relief with a high degree of success 98-99%. It’s important to note that the majority of people with hyperhidrosis have it in both the hands and feet. For this reason it is more common for people who had surgery for their hands to then want the surgery for their feet. Why the hands first? Typically excessive hand sweating appears in the younger age group and is more socially and functionally troubling to people than their feet.
Excessive armpit sweating that appears by itself (without hand and foot sweating) can be addressed, after all conservative methods have failed, with suction curettage. This can be accomplished on an outpatient basis with the success rate of about 85%.
Throughout this site we go into great detail to describe the issues surrounding excessive sweating, its history, the various treatments, and what the future holds for this condition. Medical advances are being made all the time by the conditions leading surgeons. Please let us know if there is anything further you would like added to this site. Be sure to consult with your doctor before making any medical decisions.
To all of those comments that have been posted about head sweating. Dr. Reisfeld believes that head sweating as a sole presentation with excessive sweating is not treated with surgery. The same goes for those patients who describe total body sweating over many sites of the body. The surgical approach should be utilized only for cases with excessive hand sweating, armpit sweating and feet sweating. Not all of those sites will be affected and improved with one operation.