Excessive sweating

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Excessive sweating also known as hyperhidrosis refers to a condition in which a person is sweating profusely. Normally sweating occurs as a natural reaction of the body to heat and warm environments to cool the body down through the evaporation of sweat from the surface of the skin. Excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis, however, occurs without any environmental triggers such as heat. In young adults excessive sweating occurs as a result of excessive sweatingfear, apprehension or emotional stress. However, excessive sweating also occurs as one of the symptoms of many diseases such as lung disease, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

A person with hyperhidrosis will experience sweating on the armpits, face, palms, soles of the feet and trunk. Treatment for excessive sweating may include anti-anxiety medication, antidepressants, botulism toxin injections and for severe conditions, surgery may also be required.

Disclaimer: this post on hyperhidrosis and excessive sweating is for learning purposes only. To learn about how to manage and recognize minor and major medical emergencies associated with heavy perspiration enrol in workplace approved first aid and CPR courses.

Causes of excessive sweating

Excessive sweating is commonly caused due to stress; however, it may also occur due to the following conditions:

  • Alcoholism
  • Asthma
  • Angina
  • Cancer
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • COPD
  • Fever
  • Diabetes
  • Gout
  • Leukemia
  • Low blood sugar
  • Menopause
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Tuberculosis – night sweats
  • Pneumonia

Rare causes of excessive sweating may include:

  • Anaphylaxis
  • Aortic insufficiency
  • High altitude sickness
  • Mitral insufficiency
  • Mitral stenosis
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Thyrotoxicosis

Signs and symptoms signs and symptoms of excessive sweating include:

  • Excessive sweating from the armpits
  • Excessive sweating from the palms of the hands
  • Excessive sweating from the soles of the fee
  • Excessive sweating from the trunk
  • Excessive sweating from the face


Treatment for excessive sweating usually involves anti-anxiety medication and antiperspirants.

Treatment for excessive sweating includes:

  • Antiperspirants – 20% aluminum chloride
  • Botulinum toxin injections
  • Anti-anxiety medication
  • Surgical removal of the sweat glands
  • Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy – surgical removal of the nerves that cause sweating from the sweat glands

If you are experiencing excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis, see a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment.

Home care and prevention

In order to reduce the risk of excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating or resolve excessive sweating, follow these steps:

  • Avoid common triggers such as hot environments
  • Stay away from humid environments as much as possible
  • Quit smoking and avoid passive smoking
  • Avoid caffeine and caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea or fizzy beverages
  • Avoid consuming alcohol
  • Avoid eating spicy food
  • Drink plenty of water and cool fluids
  • Reduce stress
  • Avoid overwork and plan your day properly
  • Avoid working at night
  • Avoid decongestant cold medication
  • Use antidepressants containing aluminum chloride
  • Take medication as prescribed ad directed by your health care provider. Avoid skipping doses at this may just make the medication ineffective. Familiarize yourself with the common side effects of the drugs prescribed by your health care provider

Warning signs

See your doctor immediately if any of the following problems occur along with excessive sweating:

  • Chest pain/angina
  • Heart palpitations
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Severe fatigue or weakness

Learn More

To learn more about the serious medical emergencies that can be associated with excessive sweating register for first aid and CPR programs with credible workplace approved providers / training partners.

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