Don’t Sweat It

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I am sure many of you have been in a situation, for example, where you had to stand up and talk in front of an audience, or were nervous before writing or taking an exam. What happens is that your tend to start perspiring much more than what you ususally would. Thats normal, given your heart rate increases and possibly a spike in adrenalin, but for some people that can happen for no apparent reason at all, and excessively. Its called Hyperhidrosis.

Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition in which a person sweats excessively and unpredictably. People with hyperhidrosis may sweat even when the temperature is cool or when they are at rest. Perspiring or sweating is a normal function, and usually happens when temperatires are high, or when anxious or nervous. However excessive sweating ocurrs without such triggers. People who suffer from hyperhidrosis have overactive sweat glands and it can in some cases lead to both physical and emotional discomfort.

We find there is primary and secondary hyperhidrosis. Primary hyperhidrosis ocurrs when there is excessive sweating on the hands, feet and armpits. This effects 2 – 3% of the population, but only 40% of that ever seek help in trying to overcome it. In the majority of primary hyperhidrosis cases, no cause can be found. It seems to run in families.

If the sweating occurs as a result of another medical condition, it is called secondary hyperhidrosis. The sweating may be all over the body, or it may be in one area. There are many medical reasons why secondary hyperhidrosis ocurrs, so I will mention just a few of the more common ones:

  • anxiety conditions
  • glucose control disorders
  • lung disease
  • parkinson’s disease
  • stroke
  • TB or other infections

In order to test for hyperhidrosis, and to determine whether a person suffers from it there are test which are conducted:

  • Starch-iodine test. An iodine solution is applied to the sweaty area. After it dries, starch is sprinkled on the area. The starch-iodine combination turns a dark blue color wherever there is excess sweat
  • Paper test. Special paper is placed on the affected area to absorb the sweat, and then weighed. The heavier it weights, the more sweat has accumulated.

Other questions which the doctor may as is when does it ocurr? Does it come on suddenly? Where on the body is it more prevalent? Does it happen when you think of something (mine ocurrs when I get my monthly bills – lol!)

There are also a number of ways that it can be treated:

  • Antiperspirants – Excessive sweating may be controlled with strong anti-perspirants, which plug the sweat ducts. Products containing 10% to 20% aluminum chloride hexahydrate are the first line of treatment for underarm sweating. Many people believe it is not healthy to use antiperspirants.
  • Medication – Anticholinergics drugs,  help to prevent the stimulation of sweat glands. Although some people have shown side effects.
  • Iontophoresis – this procedure uses electricity to temporarily turn off the sweat gland. It is most effective for sweating of the hands and feet. The hands or feet are placed into water, and then a gentle current of electricity is passed through it.
  • Botox – is approved for the treatment of severe underarm sweating, a condition called primary axillary hyperhidrosis. Small doses of purified botox injected into the underarm temporarily block the nerves that stimulate sweating. Side effects include injection-site pain and flu-like symptoms. If you are considering Botox for other areas of excessive sweating talk to your doctor in detail. Botox used for sweating of the palms can cause mild, but temporary weakness and intense pain.
  • Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy – what a mouthful! A minimally-invasive surgical procedure called sympathectomy may be recommended when other treatments fail. The procedure turns off the signal that tells the body to sweat excessively. It does not work well on armpit sweating.

So, if you think you sweat excessively, and I don’t mean after gym, then consider seeing your doctor. You may be one of the 40%.

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