Health and Wellness

The Cause Of Excessive Sweating (And What You Can Do About It)

Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, is a condition that affects almost 3% of the population in North America. 

If you suffer from excessive sweating, you understand the discomfort and anxiety that this condition brings. Hyperhidrosis can easily affect quality of life, as it can be mentally debilitating due to the social anxiety it causes. This condition can be caused by genetics, a side effect of medications, or from other health issues.

Hyperhidrosis can also control how you spend your time, influencing daily activities and even choice of wardrobe. Sweating too much can cause you to develop a negative self-image or make it difficult to feel confident socially. Severe cases of sweating can even make you feel restricted in your career options. 

So, it’s no wonder that those who suffer from this health concern would wonder a) why they have it, and b) what they can do about it.

Below, we’ll explain the root of excessive sweating, and how you can find lasting freedom from hyperhidrosis. 

What Is Hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis is also known in the medical field as polyhidrosis or sudorrhea. You may have this condition in just one area of the body, like the armpits, or anywhere else you sweat from. When you have this condition, you don’t need to run a marathon to sweat. You can simply be sitting in a chair, reading a book, when all of a sudden, a sweat spell comes over you. 

The most common places in which hyperhidrosis manifests are in the head, hands, armpits, face, and feet. When excess sweating is restricted to specific areas, it’s called “focal hyperhidrosis.” When someone sweats excessively throughout their body, they are said to have “generalized hyperhidrosis.” The majority of cases are restricted to one, or a few areas. That’s good news, since focal hyperhidrosis is significantly easier to treat than generalized hyperhidrosis. Generalized hyperhidrosis involves treating an underlying condition, such as menopause, which can be harder to solve.

What Causes Hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis is not “all in the head,” and it’s not just a side effect of anxiety. Studies show that there are genetic links between family members who sweat excessively.

There are two causes of excessive sweating. The first is genetics, called “primary hyperhidrosis.” This means that the sufferer was born with it, even if it came on later in life. The second is called “secondary hyperhidrosis,” which means that it’s tied to another factor besides genetics. For example, there’s a possibility you can develop secondary hyperhidrosis from medication side effects, or an underlying health condition like diabetes or menopause or hyperthyroidism. 

Primary hyperhidrosis is a condition that tends to appear during adolescence, around 13 years old. When left untreated, it can cause sweating spells for life. Thankfully, there are now treatment options to help people gain peace and comfort from excessive sweating.

Treatment Options For Excessive Sweating

If you suffer from hyperhidrosis, you’ll be glad to know you have options to meet your desired comfort levels by treating the severity of your condition. These include:

  • miraDry® – Being among the latest innovations in sweating treatments, this is a skin-level procedure that uses microwave energy to kill the sweat glands underneath your skin, non-surgically. Actually, it can eliminate both sweat and odour glands. A practitioner applies a hand tool to the armpit to administer the treatment, which is done in one or two visits (rarely three, but a third can sometimes be required). There is little to no downtime and comes with limited to mild side effects. Best of all, the results are long term. Currently, it is approved for use only in the armpits. 
  • Iontophoresis – Sometimes done at home, this is a treatment for focal hyperhidrosis of the underarms, hands or feet. The process involves putting your hands or feet in a bowl of water, or using pads under the arms, while a mild electric current is sent through it. Several regular, 20-30 minute treatments can alleviate the amount of sweating you experience in these areas.
  • Botox® injections – Using the same solution used for wrinkles, pain and twitching, this substance blocks the nerves that communicate with your sweat glands. Injections may be enough to slow down or stop the sweat in a given area for around 6 months. Repeat treatments are necessary to maintain the results.
  • Medications – Not always a popular option, prescription sweating treatments can stop your nerves from triggering sweat glands, so they don’t overproduce perspiration. Patients who choose sweating medication see an alleviation of symptoms in around 2 weeks. But the medication must always be taken.
  • Prescription-strength antiperspirants – There are multiple, strong antiperspirants that can be bought over the counter, or a doctor can prescribe one. These are not always enough for those who suffer from extreme hyperhidrosis.
  • Invasive surgery – A procedure with more risk, this option is sometimes used to eliminate underarm sweat glands, by literally taking them out with a knife. Invasive surgery involves downtime from your regular routine, and can come with side effects that are a risk with all surgeries.

Reducing the amount of sweat your body produces can open doors to living a life without any barriers. While there are multiple ways to treat hyperhidrosis, one of the longest-term, safest treatments is with miraDry®. A survey showed that 90% of the people who received a miraDry® treatment for their underarm hyperhidrosis said they were satisfied with the results. This shows that while treating hyperhidrosis can seem small, it can actually make a big difference in one’s life.