Beyond Annoying: When Excessive Sweating Becomes Life Threatening

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For the 178 million of the world’s population that’s suffering from excessive sweating, known
medically as hyperhidrosis, this condition can be pretty serious. Sure it can be annoying. But in some
cases, excessive sweating can point to potentially life threatening medical conditions that, if not
addressed promptly, can do a lot of damage.

Sweating is our body’s natural response to stimuli in our environment or within our bodies. Stimuli
such as warmth or heat, anxiety and danger can trigger sweating. But for people who suffer from
hyperhidrosis, the body sweats even without these triggers. Not only that. People who suffer form
excessive sweating perspire 4 to 5 times more compared to normal people.

Excessive sweating in itself can be problematic. People who suffer from it usually becomes withdrawn
and self conscious. It impairs their ability to make friends and maintain social ties. It keeps them from
pursuing the things they want to do out of fear of embarrassment or being misunderstood. It can also
present practical challenges such as opening jars, driving cars, using a pen, shaking hands, linking
arms, sitting and leaving sweat stains on chairs... the list goes on.

In most cases, excessive sweating is experienced without any related medical condition to trigger or
cause it. In these cases, treatments and remedies to control the sweating are recommended. But in a few
cases, excessive sweating points to a serious underlying medical condition. And this is what this report
will touch on.

In this report, we will discuss:

1. How to tell if your excessive sweating is pointing to an underlying medical condition
2. What you should do in case you have an underlying condition causing your excessive sweating
3. What tests a doctor will order to confirm it
4. What treatment options are available to you


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electronic publication is provided “as is,” and is being provided as information only. It is not to be
used as health decision making information in any circumstance.

The authors, publisher and associated company make no claims expressly or implied and no
warranties about the contents of this report as being completely accurate, and it specifically disclaims
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including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, physical, or other damages.
Types of Excessive Sweating

Excessive sweating are classified into two types depending on whether it has or does not have an
underlying medical condition causing it. The first type is called Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis or
Localized Sweating and the second type is called Generalized Hyperhidrosis.

In primary focal hyperhidrosis, the main medical condition is the sweating. It’s also called localized
sweating because the excess sweating takes place in a certain body part, for example, the palms of
hands, the soles of feet, underarms, or the face or head. This means sweating do not just happen
randomly all over the body. Instead, there are certain areas of the body where the sweat glands are too
active and produce too much perspiration.

Other hallmarks of primary focal hyperhidrosis includes:

1. Symmetrical sweating pattern. This means that if a person is suffering from excessive sweating of
  palms, both left and right palms are affected. Or if it’s the underarms, then both the right and the left
  underarm manifests the excessive sweating condition.

2. Presence of a family history. In 30% to 60% of cases of primary focal hyperhidrosis, the condition
  runs in families.

3. Condition starts to show itself during childhood or adolescence. Primary focal hyperhidrosis
  usually persists from the time the sufferer is a child or an adolescent. It’s uncommon for this type of
  excessive sweating to just appear out of the blue in people who are 25 years old or older.

4. Day time sweating. Another characteristic of primary focal hyperhidrosis is sweating only happens
  during the daytime. When you are asleep, you don’t sweat from your problem area/s (unless of
  course it’s really warm, then it’s only normal that you sweat in your sleep.)

Now that we know the characteristics of excessive sweating WITHOUT an underlying medical
condition, we’ll now talk about Generalized Hyperhidrosis.

In generalized hyperhidrosis, the excessive sweating is not restricted to certain body parts. Often, the
entire body or a large portion of the body is affected. When an afflicted person sweats, the entire body
is sweating.

Generalized hyperhidrosis is also known as secondary hyperhidrosis. As the name suggests, this type of
excessive sweating is secondary to another medical condition. This is what makes it dangerous - it’s not
just overactive sweat glands that’s disrupting your body systems, there’s also another medical condition
that’s doing damage.
How to tell if you have generalized hyperhidrosis? Here are the signs:

1. Sweating tends to manifest later in life. Unlike localized hyperhidrosis where sweating starts from
   childhood or adolescence, generalized hyperhidrosis may manifest itself at any time, and commonly
   after age 25.

2. Night time sweating. Sweating during sleep or waking up drenched in sweat is never normal. This is
   an indication that sweating is a secondary symptom of something else.

3. Sweating affecting only 1 side of the body. The symmetrical sweating pattern may be absent in
   generalized hyperhidrosis. For example, if you sweat excessively from your underarms, you only do
   so on either the left or the right underarm, but not on both simultaneously.

4. No family history of excessive sweating. If you are the first in your family to be afflicted with
   excessive sweating, it may be time to check your family history for related illnesses. It’s possible
   that the profuse sweating is just a secondary symptom of another medical condition.

If you observe any of these 4 signs, it is likely that your sweating is caused by something else. The next
thing you need to do is to have yourself examined by a doctor to find out and confirm what’s causing
your excessive sweating. In these cases, getting rid of the underlying medical condition solves the
excessive sweating problem.

Learning more about your particular type of hyperhidrosis will also help you find out how to treat and
control it. A good guide on the topic is the book written by James Horner called “Sweat Free For
Good!”, which you can find here:

Now, we’ll discuss the common medical conditions that may also cause excessive sweating, how they
are diagnosed, and the treatments associated with these medical conditions.

Underlying Medical Conditions That Can Cause Excessive Sweating

Here are some of the more common related medical condition that can cause excessive sweating. This
is by no means an exhaustive list. If none of these symptoms match yours, you should still have
yourself checked by a doctor to identify or rule out an underlying medical condition as a cause of your
excessive sweating.


The thyroid is a small gland in our throat that’s responsible for producing and regulating hormones that
control metabolism. This means it affects how the cells of our body use the food we eat and turn it into
energy and fuel that it needs.
One of the the hormones that the thyroid produces is called thyroxine. What this does is it speeds up the
body’s metabolism. In a person who suffers from hyperthyroidism, too much of the hormone thyroxine
is produced. When the metabolism is too fast, the body overheats faster, and this trigger excessive

Aside from this, thyroid hormones also affect the body’s nervous system. An excess of thyroid
hormones can cause the nervous system to be a lot more active. This may also explain why nervousness
and excessive sweating are symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

Here are the signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism:

   • weight loss despite increased appetite
   • an enlarged goiter
   • more frequent bowel movement
   • in women, changes in menstrual pattern - menses become lighter or absent
   • excessive sweating
   • rapid heart rate
   • anxiety
   • nervousness
   • irritability
   • muscle weakness
   • trembling hands
   • hair loss
   • fatigue
   • insomnia

Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed using a test to find out the level of thyroid hormones in the body. A set of
blood tests will be ordered by your doctor to confirm or rule out hyperthyroidism.

There are a lot of treatments available to people who suffer from hyperthyroidism which your doctor,
an endocrinologist, may prescribe depending on the specific type of hyperthyroidism you suffer from.
Among these treatments are:

   • anti-thyroid drugs, which block the production of hormones
   • radioactive iodine treatment, where some thyroid cells are killed thus offering a permanent
     solution to prevent overproduction of thyroid hormones
   • surgical removal, where either a nodule or the entire gland may be removed

Diabetes is a medical condition that almost everyone is now familiar with. This medical condition is
characterized the the body’s inability to metabolize blood sugar (body’s main energy source) either
because it cannot produce insulin or is unable to use the insulin in the body.

With diabetes, a situation called hypoglycemia may take place. Hypoglycemia happens when there is
too much insulin in the body and too little glucose or blood sugar. This is a common side effect
experienced by people who take drugs that increase insulin levels in the body.

Signs and symptoms you may experience include the following:

   • cold sweat
   • trembling
   • hunger
   • muscle weakness
   • fatigue
   • rapid heart rate
   • confusion
   • convulsion - in severe cases
   • night sweats

Night sweats take place because a hypoglycemic episode may happen while you are asleep. It may or
may not wake you up. And when you do wake up, you’ll clothes and linens would’ve been drenched in
sweat, even when the room temperature is cool and comfortable.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia can be easily relieved by a quick snack or sugary drink. Diabetics are
usually advised to carry some hard candy with them for this purpose. In sever cases, a person may need
to be brought to the ER, where they can be given a glucagon injection.

Menopause (Perimenopause)

If you are a woman in your 40’s when you suddenly develop excessive sweating, menopause or
perimenopause may be to blame.

Perimenopause is the transition period before a woman goes into menopause. During this stage, the
body begins to decrease the production of estrogen. The most telling sign is irregular menses. A woman
is only considered to be menopausal when she has not had a period for 12 consecutive months.

How would low levels of estrogen cause the body to sweat excessively? What happens is our brain
monitors and detects that our body is producing less estrogen. It then sends a signal to the ovaries to
produce more. The ovaries don’t cooperate, so the brain, specifically the hypothalamus, continues to
send the order for more estrogen. This causes the stress to the hypothalamus and triggers the body to
activate it’s stress mechanism. When this takes place, we sweat more and our heart rate goes up.

Other signs and symptoms of perimenopause include:

   • hot flashes
   • night sweats
   • changes in menstrual patterns
   • vaginal dryness
   • weight gain
   • mood swings
   • depression
   • fatigue
   • breast tenderness
   • vaginal dryness
   • lack of sex drive

A test that a doctor may prescribe to confirm perimenopause is called an FSH test. An FSH test may be
done as a blood or as a urine test that measures the amount of Follicle-Stimulating Hormone.
Remember the explanation above where the brains sends signals to the ovaries to produce more
estrogen? The chemical they release to carry that signal is the FSH.

Perimenopause is considered a normal life stage that women go through, and not a disease. Treatments
are designed to increase overall health and alleviate symptoms. They may include:

   • lifestyle modification (diet, exercise)
   • hormone replacement therapy

Lymphoma (Cancer of the Lymph Nodes)

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that targets the immune system. It starts out in the lymph nodes where it
may spread to other organs in the body.

Other symptoms include:

   • fatigue
   • swollen lymph glands
   • night sweats
   • itching
   • fevers and chills
   • weight loss
   • difficulty breathing
   • coughing

There are many different forms of lymphoma. A common test that is used to confirm it is a biopsy. A
sample of the tissue from the suspected node is taken and tested for cancer cells. If a diagnosis of
lymphoma is confirmed, the doctor may order further tests and scans to help determine how far the
disease has progressed and to help assess what treatment option will be appropriate.

Depending on the type of lymphoma, it may be treatable and curable. Some of the techniques used to
manage lymphoma includes:

   • radiotherapy
   • chemotherapy

Liver Disease

There are many different kinds of diseases that affect the liver and the hepatic system of our body.
Some of them are cirrhosis, hepatitis, cancer of the liver, and fatty liver disease. One of the most telling
signs of liver disease is the yellowing of the whites of the eyes or jaundice.

Common symptoms of liver disease include:

   • jaundice
   • yellowish tinge on skin
   • itchy skin
   • coated tongue
   • bad breath
   • dark urine
   • excessive thirst
   • frequent urination
   • pale stools
   • anemia
   • weight loss
   • lack of appetite

If liver disease is suspected, your doctor may prescribe blood tests and liver function tests to confirm it.
In some cases, a liver biopsy is also done.
Treatment for liver diseases includes:

   • alcohol abstinence
   • a prescribed diet
   • medicines
   • in severe cases, a liver transplant

Panic and Anxiety Disorder

WIth this medical condition, it may be difficult to identify which came first - excessive sweating or the
panic and anxiety disorder. People who suffer form excessive sweating usually get anxious just
thinking about sweating. Ironically, stressing about sweating actually triggers sweating. When sweating
is under way, the panic kicks into full gear, which makes sweating worse.

People who suffer from excessive sweating get anxious about sweating. But when does it become a
disorder? It becomes a disorder when the anxiety is so strong that it impairs a person’s ability to
function or to carry out normal daily functions.

Symptoms of panic and anxiety disorder include:

   • severe episodes of paralyzing fear that is unexpected and recurrent
   • fear which the sufferer knows is irrational or excessive
   • worry that the episodes or attack will happen again
   • difficulty breathing
   • rapid heart rate
   • trembling
   • shaking
   • chills
   • hyperventilation
   • dizziness
   • nausea

Panic and anxiety disorders are diagnosed based on the symptoms presented by the afflicted person.
There are many treatment options, both conventional and alternative, that addresses panic and anxiety.
Examples are:

   • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
   • Hypnotherapy
   • Antidepressant drugs
   • Biofeedback
• Meditation

Description: Excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis can be a symptom of several serious medical conditions. Find out the signs that point to potentially life threatening cases of excessive sweating.