Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating. It can be an embarrassing and serious problem that can affect social, professional and intimate relationships.

Hyperhidrosis can be localized. This means it affects a specific part of the body, most commonly the palms of the hands, soles of the feet or armpits. It can also be generalized, which means it affects the entire body.

Causes

Hyperhidrosis is divided into two categories: primary and secondary.

Primary has no known cause. If you have primary hyperhidrosis, a sweating attack may be triggered by:

  • High emotional states (e.g., intense sadness, fear, anger, stress)
  • Spicy foods
  • Hot climates
  • Certain medications:
    • Fever-lowering medicines
    • Insulin
    • Meperidine
    • Emetics (vomit-inducing medicines)
    • Alcohol
    • Pilocarpine

Secondary is caused by an underlying condition, also known as risk factors. These include:

  • Menopause
  • Fever
  • Infection
  • Cancer, such as lymphoma
  • Thyroid disease
  • Acromegaly or anterior pituitary tumor
  • Hypothalamic disorders
  • Adrenal tumor
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Tuberculosis
  • Drug withdrawal
  • Certain medications:
    • Fever-lowering medicines
    • Insulin
    • Meperidine
    • Emetics (vomit-inducing medicines)
    • Alcohol
    • Pilocarpine

Diagnosing Hyperhidrosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. There are no specific tests to diagnose hyperhidrosis. Tests may be ordered if your doctor is concerned that you may have a specific medical condition.