Chicago Health | Homepage
Effective treatment for excessive sweating available

Effective treatment for excessive sweating available

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I’m a 57 year-old woman and am so warm all the time that I don’t even wear a coat in the winter; just a heavy sweater. I sweat so much that it drips off my nose sometimes, and if I do any kind of physical activity — even just a short walk — I start sweating. It is uncomfortable but it is also embarrassing, and I stay away from social situations because of it. Is there anything that can be done for this? I don’t see other women having this problem.

ANSWER: Excessive sweating such as you describe is called hyperhidrosis. Rest assured, effective treatment is available. In order to decide on the best treatment options for you, you will need a thorough evaluation with your doctor to review your symptoms and check for an underlying medical condition that could be contributing to the problem.

Sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself. Your nervous system automatically triggers your sweat glands when your body temperature rises. Sweating also normally happens when you’re nervous or under stress. Other factors that have an impact on when and how much you sweat include your age, sex, posture and diet, as well as the climate where you live. Your body’s circadian rhythm — the 24-hour internal clock that helps regulate your sleep and wake patterns — can affect sweating, too.

The most common form of hyperhidrosis is called primary focal (or essential) hyperhidrosis. It happens when excess sweating is not triggered by a rise in temperature or physical activity. There is no medical cause for it and it tends to mainly affect the palms, face and soles of the feet, although in some cases it can involve the entire body.

Secondary hyperhidrosis is less common. It happens when sweating is due to a medical condition. Disorders that may lead to excessive sweating include diabetes, nervous system disorders, some infectious diseases, thyroid problems and some types of cancer, among others. Of particular note for your situation is a condition called paroxysmal localized hyperhidrosis. It primarily affects women after menopause and is caused by a nervous system disorder. Certain medications also can lead to excessive sweating.

To evaluate your condition, your doctor will likely talk with you about your symptoms and your medical history. He or she may recommend blood, urine or other lab tests to see if your sweating is the result of another medical condition. If it is, then treatment for that disorder may help decrease or eliminate the sweating.

If no clear cause can be found, treatment focuses on controlling excessive sweating. Prescription antiperspirant is often used first. Certain nerve-blocking medications and antidepressants can also reduce sweating. Injections of botulinum toxin, known by the brand name Botox or Myobloc, may help block the nerves that cause sweating.

A procedure called iontophoresis may also be an option. It is mainly used for excessive hand or foot sweating. Iontophoresis uses a device to deliver a low level of electrical current to the areas of your body prone to excessive sweating. This treatment typically is given daily for several weeks. It needs to be repeated on a regular basis to continue being effective.

If hyperhidrosis doesn’t respond to other treatment, surgery could be another choice. It may include removing sweat glands, or it could involve surgery to impair the nerves that control sweating. Surgery is generally not an option for isolated head and neck sweating.

Make an appointment to see your doctor to have your condition evaluated. Even if a specific cause of your sweating cannot be identified, it’s still likely that hyperhidrosis can be effectively managed in a way that will decrease your discomfort and embarrassment. — Robert Fealey, M.D., Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

(Mayo Clinic Q & A is an educational resource and doesn’t replace regular medical care. E-mail a question to MayoClinicQ&A@mayo.edu. For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.org.)

(c) 2015 MAYO FOUNDATION FOR MEDICAL EDUCATION AND RESEARCH. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Can you be held responsible for your parents’ long-term-care costs?

Can you be held responsible for your parents’ long-term-care costs?

By Eleanor Laise, Kiplinger Retirement Report When an older adult racks up unpaid long-term-care bills, who's

Rare syndrome causes overly flexible joints, fragile skin

Rare syndrome causes overly flexible joints, fragile skin

Mayo Clinic Q&A DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I was recently diagnosed with vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. My doctor

Calcium is crucial for long-term bone health

Calcium is crucial for long-term bone health

Mayo Clinic Q&A DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Should all postmenopausal women take calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis,

De-stress your life

De-stress your life

By Sandra Block, Kiplinger Personal Finance How stressed-out are we? Consider this: In some cities, "rage

Beyond Opioids: New guidelines offer safest ways to control pain

Beyond Opioids: New guidelines offer safest ways to control pain

By Cleveland Clinic's Chronic Conditions Team In the past, if you had minor surgery or an

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

January 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
December 25, 2016 December 26, 2016 December 27, 2016 December 28, 2016 December 29, 2016 December 30, 2016 December 31, 2016
January 1, 2017 January 2, 2017 January 3, 2017 January 4, 2017 January 5, 2017 January 6, 2017 January 7, 2017
January 8, 2017 January 9, 2017 January 10, 2017 January 11, 2017 January 12, 2017 January 13, 2017 January 14, 2017
January 15, 2017 January 16, 2017 January 17, 2017 January 18, 2017 January 19, 2017 January 20, 2017 January 21, 2017
January 22, 2017 January 23, 2017 January 24, 2017 January 25, 2017 January 26, 2017 January 27, 2017 January 28, 2017
January 29, 2017 January 30, 2017 January 31, 2017 February 1, 2017 February 2, 2017 February 3, 2017 February 4, 2017

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives