If the amount you sweat is inconsistent with your physical activity, anxiety level, and the weather or if your excess sweating interferes with your participation in social and work situations, you may have a disorder called hyperhidrosis.
Our bodies have their own built in air-conditioning system to keep us cool. We call it perspiration or sweating. But when the sweating becomes excessive and uncontrollable, it may be necessary for an individual to visit a doctor who can evaluate the situation and offer a solution. Many treatments are available to provide relief to even the most severe cases.
Hyperhidrosis has no known cause, but generally is hereditary. It presents in two forms: Primary (excessive wetness of the hands, feet, or armpits) or secondary (spontaneous sweating either all over the body or localized due to another medical condition such as heart disease, substance abuse, or menopause). Many people living with hyperhidrosis are never even diagnosed or treated for the problem.
Anyone who thinks they may have hyperhidrosis should contact a doctor for an appointment. Patients should communicate as much as they can about when excessive sweating occurs and any triggers or symptoms observed. The doctor may perform a sweat test and have a blood sample drawn.
Medications are used with some success to treat hyperhidrosis. In addition, some patients use hypnotherapists, relaxation techniques, and even an FDA-approved treatment called Iontophoresis (or electric charges). Though these methods have shown some promise, their results are usually temporary, require frequent dosages, and carry significant side effects.
For a more long-term solution, doctors at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital recommend a surgical procedure known as endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS). The sympathetic nerves run alongside the spine and are responsible for setting off the sweat glands in your skin. An endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy is a surgical procedure that cuts off the signal from those nerves, reducing the amount of sweat.
With this procedure, two small incisions are made in the chest and NYPBMH surgeons work on the nerves using tiny instruments and cameras. ETS is considered a secure and effective procedure. Most people can go home the same day as the procedure and return to their normal routine within one week.