Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition in which a person sweats excessively unpredictably. An estimated 2%-3% of Americans suffer from excessive sweating of the underarms or of the palms and soles of the feet. Underarm problems tend to start around puberty, while palm and sole sweating may begin earlier, often during childhood. If untreated, these problems may continue throughout life.
Excessive hand sweating or Palmar Hyperhidrosis is the most common form of severe sweating. Excessive sweating condition is primarily a physiological issue but it can be aggravated by emotional stimuli. Physiological meaning that the person can not control the level of sweating or timing of it. Excessive hand sweating can be quite severe affecting a patient's everyday life both functionally and socially. In about 40% of the patients the problem is genetic. Sweaty palms usually begin early in childhood and can get more severe towards the late teenage years and into early adulthood. The intensity can vary among people. It does have a genetic relation and about 50% of the patients have a family history with the condition. It can affect a person on a functional, emotional, and social level.
About excessive Sweating
Most patients who have sweaty hands will also have sweaty feet, known medically as Plantar Hyperhidrosis. Even though it is not as severe as hand sweating, functionally or socially it still poses a problem. Shoes can be ruined, sandals cannot be worn, and foot odor and fungal infection can become problematic. The odor and the discomfort caused by excessive foot sweating can lead to difficulties that are not well known in the medical community. At times the severity of Plantar Hyperhidrosis is as bad as Palmar Hyperhidrosis.
People with hyperhidrosis may sweat even when the temperature is cool or when they are at rest. Natural sweating helps the body stay cool. In most cases, it is perfectly natural. People sweat more in warm temperatures, when they exercise, or in response to situations that make them nervous, angry, embarrassed, or afraid. However, excessive sweating occurs without such triggers. Those with hyperhidrosis appear to have overactive sweat glands. The uncontrollable sweating can lead to significant discomfort, both physical and emotional. Although neurologic, metabolic, and other systemic diseases can sometimes cause excessive sweating, most cases occur in people who are otherwise healthy. Heat and emotions may trigger hyperhidrosis in some, but many who suffer from hyperhidrosis sweat nearly all the time, regardless of their mood or the weather.
Concerning Excessive Sweating
It used to be a common thought that excessive sweating is caused by over activity of the thyroid gland but over the years it was proven not to be the case. Another thought was that patients who suffered from anxiety problems would have excessive sweating. This was also proven to be wrong as patients can have severe sweating even in the most relaxing moments of their life. Often, the sweating episodes have no obvious cause. Though hyperhidrosis is not caused by anxiety, anxiety about sweating can cause or exacerbate a sweating episode. In the majority of primary hyperhidrosis cases, no cause can be found then the most likely explanation is a genetic trait. In most studies a genetic connection was shown in about 50% to 60% of the cases.
Excessive sweating is embarrassing, it stains clothes, and it complicates business and social interactions. Severe cases can have serious practical consequences as well, making it hard for people who suffer from it to hold a pen, grip a steering wheel, or shake hands. People who sweat excessively are frequently anxious about their condition, and it may lead to social withdrawal. This anxiety may make the sweating worse. Regardless of where it occurs, excessive sweating presents an incredible problem to those living with the condition. When the act of shaking hands presents a problem, business and day-to-day life can become very uncomfortable. Some patients report that the sweat prevents them from being as sociable as they would like to be, as they are forced to hide in the shadow of hyperhidrosis. Other problems occur such as smeared ink when writing or an inability to use electronic devices such as keyboards and computers. Hyperhidrosis can extremely affect people socially and functionally in their everyday lives.
Hyperhidrosis is not a temporary condition. Many people who suffer from it have suffered for many years, usually since childhood. Also, whether living in a hot or cold climate, patients who experience hyperhidrosis experience constant sweating. Very infrequently one can hear stories of patients who claim that their excessive hand sweating disappeared with time. Attempts to control this condition are numerous and they range from lotions, pills, herbal medications, bio feedback, electric currents iontophoresis, acupuncture, to surgery. It should be emphasized that patients who suffer from severe excessive hand sweating should try at least some of the conservative approaches before any decision is made to go ahead with any drastic treatments.