What is Hyperhidrosis?
Hyperhidrosis is common medical condition characterized by excessive and unpredictable sweating. An often embarrassing and frustrating condition, individuals with hyperhidrosis may start to sweat even in cool, comfortable temperatures or while completely at rest. Studies show that this condition affects about 3% of Americans, usually starting in adolescence and can continue throughout life. The symptoms of hyperhidrosis include excessive sweating in the armpits, palms, and soles of the feet. Usually excessive sweating under the arms occurs first, and symptoms in the palms and soles of feet may begin to show up in later years.
Hyperhidrosis is a particularly embarrassing disorder since it can cause problems by staining clothes, interfering with romance, and making you feel uncomfortable in business and/or social meetings and interactions. In really severe cases, this sweating condition can even interfere with daily activities, making it difficult to keep your grip on a pencil, control a steering wheel, or to comfortably shake hands with another person.
What Causes Hyperhidrosis?
In the vast majority of cases, people who suffer from hyperhidrosis are otherwise completely healthy. In rarer cases, certain systemic, metabolic, or neurological disease may cause hyperhidrosis. Researchers say that temperature changes (usually heat) and emotioins are the major triggers of hyperhidrosis symptoms. In other individuals, the symptoms of the condition may be present during all waking hours no matter the temperature or their mood state.
Treatment of Hyperhidrosis
Using Botox (Botulinum toxin) to treat hyperhidrosis is an effective and safe method. Botox is a natural and special protein which can affect the chemical messages in your nerve endings. For individuals with hyperhidrosis, Botox can help by inhibiting the nerves which stimulate the sweat glands. This treatment has been effectively in use for over 10 years to treat a number of conditions, including hyperhidrosis.
Taking this approach with hyperhidrosis is a relatively new strategy and all research shows safe and effective results. A recent study shows that injections to the under arm sweat glands can achieve positive results for an average of 7 months. Almost a third of the group achieved long lasting results of 16 months free of hyperhidrosis symptoms. In the past, topical treatment has been attempted with high strength antiperspirants, but mostly unsuccessfully. Injections of the Botulinum toxin are fast, simple, and effective, allowing individuals to go about their day as normal without restrictions. (On the day of injections, however, the patient should avoid intense exercise and sauna use.)
In minor cases of the condition, antiperspirants may help to relieve the symptoms, but in general without long lasting results. Your dermatologist can prescribe a prescription strength antiperspirant that may achieve better results. There are sometimes minor side effects associated with prescription strength levels, such as skin irritation.
Oral medications, called anticholinergics, can sometimes be used to help reduce sweating in individuals. These are not a common treatment for hyperhidrosis because of the common side effects associated with them, including dry mouth and vision problems. However, if patients don't react to antiperspirants and are allergic to botox, it may be the best available option.
As a last resort, surgery may be necessary. To treat severe hyperhidrosis, the surgery is called cervical sympathectomy. The goal of this surgery is to destroy the nerve that connects the sweat gland to your skin pores. A number of complications can result from this surgery, including excessive sweating in other parts of the body, and should only be considered as a last resort.
Be sure to talk with your dermatologist about your treatment options for hyperhidrosis. Most treatments are recommended on a case-by-case scenario with a highly individualized approach. Always tell your doctor if you are currently taking a prescription medication or if you have a medical history of any related conditions.
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