Hyperhidrosis is a genetic condition that causes severe sweating and abnormal heat loss of the hands, underarms or feet. Individuals with Hyperhidrosis sweat to the point that their hands, feet or underarms are moist, clammy or literally dripping wet.
Hyperhidrosis is caused by a hyperactive Sympathetic Nervous System. The areas of the body that may be affected can occur in any combination, involving the face, underarms, hands and feet. The severe sweating from Hyperhidrosis may start with the beginning of each day and continue throughout the day and night or it may be intermittent.
A common misconception is that the excess sweating of Hyperhidrosis is due to severe anxiety, extreme shyness or emotional distress. However, persons with Hyperhidrosis sweat profusely even when calm, alone or resting. While the condition may be aggravated by anxiety, the disorder has its own trigger and the sweating can appear at any time.
However, there is usually an interrelationship between anxiety and sweating that develops to a greater or lesser degree in nearly all patients with severe Hyperhidrosis. Anxiety, while not a cause, can aggravate the condition. As the onset of symptoms is anxiety provoking, an individual who suffers with Hyperhidrosis anticipates the sweating, which in turn causes more sweating, creating a vicious cycle. Many individuals will try to escape by avoiding stressful or social situations.
Likewise, weight, hormonal imbalance or psychological disturbances are not factors related to the cause or cure of Hyperhidrosis. Persons of all sizes, physical conditions and mental well being suffer with the disorder.
While emotional wellness is not a factor in the cause, the excessive sweating that occurs can take a toll on the patient’s self confidence and relationships with others. Coping with Hyperhidrosis is difficult and many persons with the condition find themselves hiding their sweating from their closest of friends or partners and avoiding social contact.
Secondary Hyperhidrosis is a condition of Generalized Excessive Body Sweating. The cause of secondary Hyperhidrosis may be due to chronic infections, hyperthyroidism, autoimmune disorders, malignancy or other factors. A thyroid test is often recommended to people with excessive to verify that their Hyperhidrosis is not due to hyperthyroidism. The diagnosis and work-up of secondary Hyperhidrosis is usually made by a knowledgeable internist. This disorder is not responsive to surgical treatments for Hyperhidrosis.
Who suffers with hyperhidrosis?
In the United States, Hyperhidrosis affects one out of 30 individuals – or approximately twelve million Americans.
Hyperhidrosis affects both men and women, all races and every age group. One out of every30 Caucasians has Hyperhidrosis. Asians have an even higher rate of incidence with one of every five persons suffering from the condition.
At any stage of life, Hyperhidrosis presents difficult and humiliating situations for the sufferer.
Children or adolescents who suffer with Hyperhidrosis are particular vulnerable. As childhood is a time to build self-esteem, young people who are afflicted with Hyperhidrosis are especially at risk for developing inappropriate coping mechanisms. In middle or high school, a student with Hyperhidrosis usually finds that his or her peers misunderstand what the condition means. Frequently, a teenager will withdraw and distance himself or herself from potentially embarrassing situations. Furthermore, they can lose confidence in their abilities to interact with others.
Teenagers with Hyperhidrosis often will quit band, cheerleading, sports or even dating because of the embarrassment and ridicule from peers. The longer a teenager suffers with the condition, the greater the emotional fallout.
Adults with Hyperhidrosis are equally open to emotional distress. During conversations, sufferers may hide their hands under their arms, behind their backs or under their thighs.
Oftentimes individuals with the condition choose careers that eliminate social interaction. Even interviews or situations where shaking hands is expected are difficult.
Socially, adult patients report that during social gatherings, they often opt to constantly hold a cold drink so people would assume that their hand was cold and clammy because of the drink, not because of sweat.