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The Two Main Types of Excessive Sweating

Updated on August 5, 2011

Are you one of those people who have always had to wipe off your hands before you shake someone's hand? Do you always have to be aware of what your shirt looks like under your arms before you lift them in public? If you can relate to either of these things, you're not alone.

When Is Your Sweating Excessive?

It can be difficult to determine when sweating a lot crosses the line into sweating too much. Sweating is a normal reaction of your body when it's working harder and it needs to cool down a little bit. Coupled with that is the fact that everyone is different. Some people just naturally sweat more than others do, just like some people are have a higher tolerance for spicy food or are shy when meeting strangers. People are all different and they all have different sweat patterns. That makes it more difficult to determine when your sweating is becoming excessive.

The best way to define excessive sweating is by comparing the level of sweating to what is required by the body under similar circumstances. If you are sweating a great deal while watching a movie and there is no stress, the temperature isn't too hot and you're not anxious about anything, it is considered excessive.

Localized Sweating

Primary focal hyperhidrosis is one type of excessive sweating and up to 3% of the population suffers from this condition. This is the type of sweating that has no known cause. There are no medical conditions or drug interactions causing this and the people who suffer from the condition are considered to be healthy.

It is easy to identify this type of sweating because it typically is only seen at specific body parts. Localized sweating tends to occur on both sides of the body and is typically seen in the underarm areas, however it can also occur on the face, hands, head or feet.

The primary school of thought is that localized sweating is caused by a minor problem with the nervous system, although this has not been medically proven.

This type of sweating isn’t a medical problem and it won’t cause any additional health problems. However, this is sometimes a small consolation for those people who feel that they have to alter their lives to deal with their excessive sweating problems.

Generalized Sweating

Secondary general hyperhidrosis is the type of excessive sweating that occurs all over the body, it is not just located in specific places. This type of sweating is much more serious than localized sweating because it is usually caused by some kind of medical problem that can be much more serious.

One of the key symptoms of generalized sweating is that it frequently occurs at night.

There are many different medical conditions that can cause secondary general hyperhidrosis and they can be quite serious. Some of these include pregnancy, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, menopause, thyroid problems, rheumatoid arthritis, heart failure, diabetes and stoke.

Another cause of this type of sweating can be certain medications. Having this specific reaction depends upon the specific person and how they relate to the specific type of medication. Some of the following types of medications are known to have excessive sweating as a side effect: antibiotics, psychiatric medications, supplements and medication for high blood pressure or dry mouth.


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