Everyone sweats – it’s the body’s natural way of cooling down. If you didn’t sweat, you’d eventually overheat and die. It’s as simple as that. However, there is normal sweating, and then there is excessive sweating. Sweating too much may be due to something like hyperhidrosis, or it could be a sign of something else. What is excessive sweating?
What Does Excessive Mean?
It’s tough to say what’s normal and what’s excessive when it comes to sweating, as the amount varies significantly depending on your environment, your activity, and even on your mental state. For instance, if you’re nervous, you’ll sweat more than someone who isn’t, even if the temperature is relatively cool and you’re not being physically active. So, how much is too much?
According to the Mayo Clinic, excessive sweating is generally caused by hyperhidrosis, which “is abnormally excessive sweating that’s not necessarily related to heat or exercise”. In most instances, there is no actual underlying cause – you just sweat more than usual. However, in some cases, there may be an issue. If the problem is severe, surgery may be required to remove sweat glands from parts of your body.
The most common type of hyperhidrosis is called primary focal hyperhidrosis. It is related to your nerves. When the nerves that control your sweat glands are activated, they sometimes become overactive. This causes sweating during periods when your body would not naturally need to cool down. Note that there is no actual medical cause for this condition, although it can be hereditary.
Secondary hyperhidrosis is the term given to excessive sweating that actually has an underlying medical cause. In this instance, the nerves that signal your sweat glands are not overactive, but you still sweat excessively. This could be caused by diabetes, menopause, low blood sugar, or even a problem with your thyroid. In some types of cancer, excessive sweating is a symptom.
Should you visit your doctor about your excessive sweating? Maybe, but definitely do so if you experience night sweats as well as daytime excessive sweating, if only one area of your body is sweating, if you’re only now experiencing excessive sweating late in life, or if you’ve noticed sudden changes with your sweating.
How to Treat Excessive Sweating
In most instances, there are only a few things you can do to help control excessive sweating. Some patients have reported experiencing a reduction in hyperhidrosis when engaging in strenuous activity previously. For instance, working out in the morning may help reduce the chance of excessive sweating during the day.
Some people have to rely on antiperspirants, although this is rarely a good idea, as the aluminum in antiperspirants can be very dangerous for your body. Some patients have also experienced success with iontophoresis and Botox. There are also prescription medications available that can help with excessive sweating, although some do come with potentially worrisome side effects.
Excessive sweating is most likely normal, but if you have any of the additional symptoms noted, make sure to see your doctor, as it could be a sign of underlying medical problems.