How to Stop Excessive Sweating

Updated on May 5, 2018
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Bruce is a freelance writer specialised in health topics. He turns credible research papers into easy-flowing articles that anyone can read.

As much as we hate it, sweating serves an important biological purpose. Some of the harmful toxins generated by our bodily processes and the many things we ingest are eliminated through the skin, carried in our sweat. That is apart from cooling our bodies. But it is no secret that sweat can feel uncomfortable and look unsightly—especially if it is excessive. According to Dee Anna Glaser, M.D., of Saint Louis University, about 8 million people in the USA have a hyperhidrosis problem. What causes excessive sweating and what can you do to stop it?

Freestyle aerobics
Freestyle aerobics | Source

How Does Sweating Occur?

The human body has between two to four million sweat glands according to WebMD. Three-quarters of these are called eccrine sweat glands. The sweat from these glands regulates body temperature via evaporation. It is clear and odourless.

The other 1 million glands are called apocrine sweat glands and these are where antiperspirant companies make money. They are located in the armpits and the groin area. Unlike the eccrine glands, these pump out a thick fluid. It has no odour at first but thanks to the handiwork of bacteria that resides in the skin things turn foul. The bacteria breaks down the protein found in apocrine sweat resulting in offending acids.

As earlier stated, the body releases sweat which then evaporates leaving the skin cool. The sweat in the armpits, groin and face is released primarily for this reason while sweating in the palms and feet is also triggered by emotions. Excessive sweating occurs when the mechanisms by which sweat release is controlled go haywire, leading to hyperhidrosis.

What Causes Excessive Sweating?

Excessive sweating can be divided into two types: secondary and primary. Primary over sweating basically occurs when your sweating mechanism goes into overdrive without any external factor. This has more to do with the way you were born than anything else. In other words, it is hereditary.

Secondary over sweating is triggered by either a medical condition or the effect of medication or sweat-inducing food, or drugs. Treatment of secondary hydrolysis has to address the root problem, not the sweating itself.

Lifestyle Causes of Excessive Sweating

  • Diet: Certain food can make you sweat more especially if you eat them on a regular basis. These include coffee, spicy foods, junk fatty foods, and anything with too much salt.
  • Alcoholism: When your favourite strong drink enters your system, it raises your heart rate and dilates your blood vessels. This leads to higher than normal temperatures, and so your system pumps out sweat.
  • Medication: If you have suddenly started over sweating and are taking any medication for anything, check to see if sweating is among the side effects. If at all it is, talk to your doctor to see if there could be an alternative that doe does not come with sweating.


Psychological Causes of Over-Sweating

According to the Anxiety Centre, sweating can be the result of severe anxiety. Stress and anxiety are not just mental. The body responds to these mental states physically and one way is through sweating. But then this turns into a cycle if you are in a public place where sweating too much is the last thing you want. The more you sweat, the more anxious and uncomfortable you become… and so the more you sweat.

Some medication for psychological problems such as depression might also lead to over sweating. If you happen to be addicted to these, as often happens, one of the withdrawal symptoms you might have to deal with might be too much sweat.


Medical Conditions That Cause Excessive Sweating

For the majority of adults that see a sudden increase in their sweating, the reason is often some other medical problems. Common conditions to look out for include:

Thyroid problems: The thyroid controls your metabolism and therefore your body heat. If it over-secretes its hormones and raises your body's cellular activity, the body will heat up, making sweating a necessity.

Diabetes: Diabetes can affect a wide spectrum of your body systems, most of which are linked to sweating. For example, when blood glucose levels drop too low, the body activates the fight or flight mode. This causes anxiety which then triggers sweating. Diabetes can also affect your thyroid, throwing it into overactivity. The excess hormones secreted by your thyroid causes your metabolism and therefore your body temperature to rise. As you might expect, sweat is released to keep you cool.

Cancer: Not all cancers cause sweating and it is not clear why some do. Cancers that might cause excessive sweating include: carcinoid tumours, mesothelioma, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, liver cancer, leukaemia, and bone cancer

Malaria: One of the symptoms of malaria is over sweating.

Tuberculosis: As the immune system reacts to the invading tuberculosis, the white blood cells release signalling molecules. The night sweats associated with TB are the body’s reaction to these molecules.

Parkinson's disease: This condition disturbs the nervous system. The body loses tight control of your sweating mechanics resulting in too little sweat (hypohidrosis) or excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)

How to Reduce Sweating

Remedies for excessive sweating range from lifestyle changes to medical procedures. It all depends on the cause. If your over-sweating is hereditary, your only option might be to see how best you can live with it, what lifestyle changes you can make. Otherwise, you might need one of the medical procedures listed below.

If it is caused by a medical condition, focus on treating the root problem while adopting lifestyle changed to manage the sweat.

Things to Avoid to Reduce Excessive Sweating

  • Reduce Alcohol
  • Avoid spicy foods
  • Avoid Caffeine
  • Avoid Fatty Junk food

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Medical Treatment for Over-Sweating

There are certain medicines and medical procedures you can use to deal with your hyperhidrosis. Not all options work for everyone and so your doctor needs to examine you to determine what options might be best for you.

Medication: There is medication that targets the sweat glands. It is designed to keep them from being stimulated by the nervous system, keeping them inactive.

Botox: In 2004, the FDA approved Botox treatment for over sweating. It only works for the armpit but it comes with potential side effects. These include problems swallowing and speaking. Although the Botox treatment is permanent, the side effect wane after some weeks or months.

Surgery: This definitely has to be your last resort. You can have surgery to disable the nerves that trigger over sweating.

Iontophoresis: A procedure that uses electricity to disable sweat glands.

MiraDry: This is an FDA approved device that is used to damage the sweat glands. MiraDry uses electromagnetic energy to dramatically slater the local temperature, resulting in irreversible gland damage.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2018 Bruce


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