If you sweat even when you’re simply sitting down in a cool area, you may have a condition called hyperhidrosis. Excessive sweating isn’t easy to talk about, but you may have to discuss with your doctor for options to get your life back.
So how do you know if you have a problem with excessive sweating?
If you soak through your shirt, pants, socks, etc or if you sweat when you aren’t working out and when it is cool outside you may have a problem with sweating. If you sweat at night and soak through your sheets when you don’t have a fever or when it is not very hot, you may need help with your sweating. When seeing a doctor, he may have questions for you about your condition. Here are a few questions your doctor might ask you:
Do you have to change your clothes several times a day because of sweating? If so, how many times?
How many times a day do you bathe or shower, and what type of soap do you use?
What have you tried (such as antiperspirants or absorbent foot pads) to control your excessive sweating?
Has heavy sweating affected your social life, work life or mood?
Do you experience any skin irritations where you sweat the most?
Once your doctor asks you questions, they might ask about your medical history or any conditions you have that may contribute to the sweating. They do have tests for hyperhidrosis. For example, The starch-iodine test uses a mixture of iodine and starch, which turns blue in areas where your body is sweating excessively. The paper test also uses a special type of paper applied where you sweat the most to determine how much you actually sweat.
Based on your health history and exam, your doctor will determine whether you have primary hyperhidrosis or secondary hyperhidrosis.
Primary hyperhidrosis is the most common cause of excessive sweating. It’s not contributed from any medical condition. Primary hyperhidrosis tends to start in childhood and run in families, and it usually causes heavy sweating on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and armpits.
Secondary hyperhidrosis is caused by a medical condition (such as cancer or an infection) or medication (which can include antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs). Sweating can occur over wider areas of your body.
Knowing which kind of sweating problem you have can help your doctor find the right treatment for it. That treatment may involve antiperspirants, iontophoresis (a technique that uses a low current passed through water to treat heavy sweating of the hands and feet), or Botox injections to block the nerve signals that trigger your sweat glands.
If sweating is due to another condition, then treating the primary condition may help with symptoms. Discuss all of your options with your doctor. Make sure you fully understand them, and their possible side effects, before you begin hyperhidrosis treatment.
You also may want to ask your doctor or call your insurance company to see if your treatment will be covered. Some insurance companies cover treatments and some may not consider it a real condition. You should know before you commit to a treatment if you will need money assistance. It is especially important with the new insurance laws coming next year.
Keep in touch with your doctor while you are undergoing treatment for hyperhidrosis. If your hyperhidrosis isn’t responding to antiperspirants, iontophoresis, or Botox, the next step may be to try oral medication or surgery.
Do you have problems with sweating or have been diagnosed with hyperhidrosis? Tell us about your experiences – you are not alone!