What is hyperhidrosis?
Every day, the human body perspires to maintain constant internal body temperature. Perspiration is regulated by the Sympathetic Nervous System, which controls about five million sweat glands in the body. Sweating is controlled by branches of the sympathetic chain that is located within the chest cavity.Hyperhydrosis is a medical condition that causes perspiration far greater than the physiological needs of the body. Although no one knows why some individuals sweat excessively, it is known that the sweating is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. Excessive sweating may be episodic or continuous.
You are about to go on a job interview, to church, or to meet someone new and you notice that your hands and underarms are sweating. Or, you’ve just completed an aerobic workout and your whole body is soaked in sweat. Your body (Sympathetic Nervous System) naturally secretes sweat to cool down the body. But, in some cases, up to 1% of the population has excessive sweating where the body (Sympathetic Nervous System) overworks to cool down the internal body temperature. The condition is known as hyperhidrosis.
Locations of hyperhidrosis
Hyperhidrosis can occur suddenly or continuously, in the four major areas: hands (palmer hyperhidrosis), armpits (axillary hyperhidrosis), feet (plantar hyperhidrosis), and face (facial hyperhidrosis).
palmar hyperhidrosis | axillary hyperhidrosis | plantar hyperhidrosis |
Symptoms of hyperhidrosis
Having palmer hyperhidrosis, axillary hyperhidrosis, plantar hyperhidrosis, and/or facial hyperhidosis is a profound and dramatic experience. It affects all aspects of life, including work and related professional activities, the activities of daily living and normal, interpersonal social actions.
Sweaty hands can occur while meeting someone for the first time, through nervousness or emotional distress. Even rubbing on a small amount of lotion can trigger palmar hyperhidrosis.
In severe palmer hyperhidrosis cases, sweat is seen to drip literally down from the hands. This is a condition which can be detected in early childhood. Patients with palmar hyperhidrosis disorder are constantly aware of their condition and think they have to live with it. Usually, the sweating of the hands is the most distressing manifestation of primary hyperhidrosis. The amount of sweating varies from moisture to actual dripping. Many patients report, also, that their hands feel cold and clammy.
Because hands are exposed in social and professional settings, many patients with Hyperhidrosis are self-conscious and may avoid social contact. They may be reluctant to shake hands or handle paperwork. Patients have even been embarrassed to hold the hands of those they love.
Axillary Hyperhidrosis , excessive sweating in the armpits, can cause embarrassing wet marks on shirts. People with this condition avoid many colors and fabrics which could show the sweat marks.
Plantar Hyperhidrosis refers to excessive sweating of the feet. It is a known cause of foot odor and athlete’s feet. The combination of palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis can create a problem for a driver because the moisture of the hands and feet can build up to make the steering wheel and foot pedals slippery; this, in turn, can cause a lack of control of the vehicle.
Facial Hyperhidrosis, sweating of the face, may be so profuse that it causes the person to be insecure, appearing overly-anxious, when this is not really the case. Along with facial sweating, someone could experience facial blushing, another embarrassing manifestation of the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.