Hyperhidrosis is excessive perspiration. Sometimes, the condition is idiopathic, meaning that the cause is unknown, or it may be a result of underlying conditions. Hyperhidrosis can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, and can even occur in cool weather or while sitting quietly. The symptoms vary with the cause, and as such, the condition is broken down into two types: primary and secondary.
Primary Symptom: Focal Perspiration
Individuals with focal sweating only perspire profusely on one or a few parts of the body. It could be the underarms, the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, or the forehead, while the rest of the body is unaffected. These areas may literally drip with perspiration.
Primary Symptom: Both Sides of Body
People with this symptom find themselves sweating on both sides of the body, including both armpits, both sides of the groin, chest, back, and under the breasts. The perspiration can be excessive enough to soak through several layers of clothing.
Primary Symptom: Early Morning Perspiration
Some people with hyperhidrosis experience excessive sweating when they wake up in the morning. The room may be cool, and there appears to be no reason for the perspiration, which may last a short while or go on for hours.
Primary Symptom: Frequent Occurrence
Perspiration episodes may occur at least once a week, but for many people, it is far more frequent. The issue causes a social concern — people worry perspiration stains may soak through their clothing. They worry about body odor and can be afraid of physical proximity to others. Some people change their clothes several times a day to minimize stains and scent.
Primary Symptom: Early Onset
Primary hyperhidrosis usually has its onset in childhood or adolescence. These young people are usually healthy, with no underlying medical conditions. It may cause a child to avoid athletic activities and socializing. They may become self-conscious, withdrawn, and depressed. Children should see a physician because the symptoms can be treated.
Secondary Symptom: Focal and General
The secondary type of hyperhidrosis may be focal or involve the whole body. The difference between the two types of symptoms is that secondary symptoms are caused by an underlying medical condition. This type may also describe a side effect of a drug, a food supplement, illegal substance use, and more.
Secondary Symptom: Sweating While Asleep
Sweating during sleep can be a sign of a medical condition such as an infection, hormone changes in men or women, low blood sugar, insulin, other diabetes medications, severe anxiety, sleep apnea, or overactive thyroid. Life-threatening diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, and HIV can also present with hyperhidrosis.
Secondary Symptom: Later Onset
As opposed to primary symptoms, the secondary symptoms usually start in adulthood, sometimes following a head injury or frostbite. It may also appear after mercury poisoning, a spinal injury, and with alcohol abuse, heart disease, pregnancy, Parkinson’s disease, or shingles. Seeing a physician is crucial for treatment of these illnesses, and this can ease the hyperhidrosis symptoms, as well.
Secondary Symptom: Flu-Like Illness
Many people with hyperhidrosis develop symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and other flu symptoms, despite never being exposed to a virus. Treatment for these symptoms may be as simple as over-the-counter remedies, but they may recur.
Secondary Symptoms: Six-Month Condition
A person with secondary hyperhidrosis must have had it at least six months before an official diagnosis will be confirmed. During this time, it may be unknown if there is an underlying cause. Those with symptoms should try to determine the cause and whether the sweating is related to it. Anyone with profuse sweating should see a physician.