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What Causes Excessive Sweating?

With summer around the corner, now is the time to learn about excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) and understand what to do if it becomes a problem. When your body heats up from being in the sun, during strenuous physical activity, or spending time in a sauna, your body releases excessive heat through sweating. Most people also begin to sweat when they are anxious or when they eat spicy foods. Sometimes the excessive sweat is a problem. 

If sweating makes you feel self-conscious or uncomfortable, dermatologist Douglass Forsha, MD, and his team at Jordan Valley Dermatology can offer prescription treatment options.  Also available is the state-of-the-art MiraDry® treatment. Dr. Forsha’s office, in South Jordan, Utah, offers the lowest price in the valley for MiraDry treatments.

There are different kinds of sweating

Sweating is a natural regulatory mechanism in the body which releases excessive body heat, but it can also be triggered by emotional factors such as stage fright. Experts differentiate between the following forms of normal sweating.

Thermoregulatory sweating

Thermoregulatory sweating manages an increased body temperature that occurs in extreme heat or after physical activity.

Emotional sweating

You might experience emotional sweating when you find yourself in any situation that triggers anxiety. This can happen before a test or speaking in public. Emotional sweating generally occurs primarily on the palms of the hands, armpits, the soles of the feet, and the forehead.

Gustatory sweating

Gustatory, or taste sweating, occurs when chewing sour or spicy foods or drinking alcohol. These activities stimulate your metabolism and thus the production of heat. This mainly results in sweating of the face and, less often, the upper body. 

Possible causes of excessive sweating

No clear cause can be found for primary hyperhidrosis. However, high temperatures, physical exertion and anxiety trigger increased sweating. The leading causes of secondary hyperhidrosis are:

Fever

When your body increases its temperature to fight against invading pathogens, you experience a fever. While the temperature rise is accompanied by cold, dry skin and sometimes chills, warm, reddened skin and sweating help to lower the body temperature.

Infectious diseases

Fever with sweating is a common symptom of infectious diseases such as flu, colds, blood poisoning (sepsis), and malaria. Chronic infections such as AIDS and tuberculosis are often accompanied by sweating (mainly during sleep), fatigue, and reduced performance.

Menopause

The hormonal changes during menopause manifest themselves in many women with increased sweating and hot flashes.

Pregnancy

The hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can also trigger increased body temperature and possibly sweating.

Obesity

Together with joint problems, shortness of breath, and limited mobility, excessive sweating is one of the nonspecific symptoms of being overweight. The reason for this is disturbing heat regulation due to the increased subcutaneous tissue.

Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)

Excessive sweating associated with noticeable sensitivity to heat may indicate an overactive thyroid. Other possible signs of hyperthyroidism are nervousness, hand tremors, and weight loss despite an increased appetite.

Hypoglycemia in diabetes

Sweating with restlessness in diabetics is usually a sign of hypoglycemia. Additional symptoms include cravings, palpitations, tremors, and possibly drowsiness or even loss of consciousness. Hypoglycemia can develop in people with diabetes if they skip a meal, use the wrong dose of blood sugar-lowering medication, drink alcohol, or have increased glucose requirements due to infection or physical exertion.

Parkinson's disease

Even at the beginning of Parkinson's disease, reduced heat tolerance and sweating can be seen. Patients often complain of night sweats. In Parkinson's patients, profuse sweating is especially evident in conjunction with a decrease in mobility.

Shock

People in shock break out in a cold sweat. They have gray, cool skin and are trembling, restless, or are afraid. There may also be drowsiness or even loss of consciousness (fainting). If there are any signs of shock, you should see a doctor immediately.

When do you need to see a doctor?

Sweating is often a completely normal and often situation-related reaction of the body. However, a visit to a doctor is advisable in the following cases:

Call Dr. Forsha at Jordan Valley Dermatology Center to discuss excessive sweating treatment options such as MiraDry.

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