Why Do We Sweat and How To Stop Excessive Sweating

Why Do We Sweat?

What is excessive sweating? How can you stop excessive sweating? Is there anything that can help alleviate the problem? Well, there are, but it all depends on what type of hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) you are suffering from.

Excessive sweating, as sufferers will know only too well, can be a huge source of embarrassment and distress, so much so that quality of life can be affected. While the symptoms of sweating excessively can make a sufferer feel anxious and upset, it is important to know that you are not alone. In fact, you are merely one of millions of people across the world in the same position, and probably dealing with the same social problems. The condition, which is given the medical name of “hyperhidrosis” does not pose any serious threat to a person’s overall health; it does however need treatment and leads to a lot of questions, namely “why am I a sufferer?” and “how to stop sweating?” Unfortunately, many hyperhidrosis sufferers avoid seeking the proper help, either through embarrassment, or the assumption that nothing can possibly be done to help. These people in particular should know that treatment is available.

What Is Excessive Sweating?

Sweating is something that everybody does. It is essential in helping keep the body at the correct temperature when it begins to overheat in warm weather, during exercise or when suffering from a fever. Excessive sweating means sweating a lot more normal. Hyperhidrosis sufferers will still sweat when hot; the problem is they will also sweat profusely at times when they are not overheating.

Types of Hyperhidrosis

You may think that you are an excessive sweater and that is that; however, the condition is broken down into three types and you as a sufferer will fall into one of the categories: These are:

  • Primary focal hyperhidrosis
  • Secondary focal hyperhidrosis
  • Generalized focal hyperhidrosis

Primary (idiopathic) focal hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating that occurs in certain areas of the body: palms of hands, armpits, face and soles of feet. Around 3 in every 100 people are affected with these symptoms and the exact cause is unknown, affecting people of any age. Primary focal hyperhidrosis is a long term condition and while there is no obvious trigger, anxiety, spicy food, heat and emotion can all cause a bout of sweating.

What Is Excessive Sweating

Secondary focal hyperhidrosis is a rare type of excessive sweating and focuses on a particular part of the body, for example, one hand or one leg. The cause of secondary focal hyperhidrosis is linked to another medical problem such as injury or spinal disease and tests are generally required to discover the underlying cause.

Generalized focal hyperhidrosis more common than secondary but affects less people than primary focal hyperhidrosis. ‘Generalized’ refers to excessive sweating all over the body and is also linked to an underlying medical condition. There are many medical conditions linked to generalized focal hyperhidrosis, these include:

  • Heart problems
  • Hormone problems
  • Drug and medication side-effects
  • Nerve damage
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Overactive thyroid gland
  • Cancer
  • Infection
  • Fever

Treatments for Excessive Sweating

While there are serious medical complications related to excessive sweating, the extreme perspiration alone can cause stress and social problems. Fortunately, there is treatment available, and in many cases, sufferers are able to help themselves without the need for medical assistance.

If the bouts of excessive sweating are mild, following a few general steps can help to ease symptoms:

  • Try to avoid certain triggers such as spicy food and heat where possible.
  • Use antiperspirant as opposed to deodorant. People often assume the two types of body spray are interchangeable; however, they are very different. Antiperspirant is designed to stifle sweat release whereas deodorant merely masks any bad smells and cannot stop sweat.
  • Wear loose clothing; this is probably a technique well-known to excessive sweaters, but it is also valuable advice. Linen is also a good choice of material for keeping the body cool, especially in hot weather. Black and white colored shirts will help make sweat less noticeable.
  • Change socks twice a day for sweating feet; also try alternating shoes as much as possible.
  • Absorbent foot powder used twice a day will help keep sweating to a minimum.

For some people, “regular” techniques may not be enough to prevent or limit the excessive sweating, in these cases stronger treatments might be needed. The first line of treatment will often be an aluminum chloride-based antiperspirant. A spray of this kind can prevent sweating on the armpits, hands, feet and face and works by blocking sweat duct openings. Worse cases still may warrant Iontophoresis, and electric stimulation which is given over 3-4 treatments. Injections of botulinum toxin can be given directly to the affected area to stop nerves that control sweat glands from working. When all else has failed, surgery to remove sweat glands and some of the nerves that control them maybe the only option; however, such invasive treatment is rarely needed.

Through treatment, excessive sweating can be effectively managed, allowing you carry on with everyday life – excess sweat free!