Read below about excessive sweating, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your excessive sweating from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Excessive Sweating Symptoms

Don’t sweat the small stuff? Sometimes, sweating isn’t something we can will ourselves not to do, even if we feel otherwise cool and collected. It’s often during the most inconvenient situations that it can even become excessive. Excessive sweating symptoms may occur under the arms, on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and on the face and scalp. These areas of the body have the highest concentration of sweat glands. [8]

The body has more than two million sweat glands. Sweating helps us regulate our body temperature. It also hydrates our skin and helps to balance our body's fluids and electrolytes. [9] Excessive sweating, or "hyperhidrosis," refers to sweating beyond what is necessary to accomplish these functions. [8]

Primary hyperhidrosis refers to excessive sweating that has no identifiable cause. [8] Secondary hyperhidrosis, on the other hand, is excessive sweating due to an underlying condition. [8]

Excessive Sweating Causes Overview

  • Primary hyperhidrosis: Primary hyperhidrosis causes excessive (and obvious) sweating, especially underarm sweating, and sweating of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. [1] Sweating on the face and scalp is less common in primary hyperhidrosis. Primary hyperhidrosis unfortunately has both social and professional implications. [1] Because of excessive underarm sweating, clothes are easily stained. [2] Persistent skin moisture can lead to a variety of dermatological conditions. [4] It can be embarrassing to shake hands if your palms are always sweaty. [2]

  • Secondary hyperhidrosis: The most common cause of secondary hyperhidrosis is excessive heat. [5] Graves disease (hyperthyroidism), [6] panic disorder, [7] heart attack, 8(https://www.buoyhealth.com/symptoms-a-z/fever/), [5] and menopausal hot flashes [5] are some of the conditions that might cause excessive sweating. Some medications can cause excessive sweating. [8]

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Excessive Sweating

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced excessive sweating. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Overactive Thyroid

    The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of your endocrine glands, which make hormones. Thyroid glands control how fast one burns calories and how fast the heart beats. If the thyroid is too active, it makes more thyroid hormones than the body needs. This is called hyperthyroidism.

    Great prognosis with high remission rates

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, anxiety, depressed mood, irritability, trouble sleeping
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Panic Disorder

    Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. It causes panic attacks, which are sudden feelings of terror without true danger. One may feel as if they are losing control or have physical symptoms like sweating or a racing heart.

    Chronic with relapses

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    anxiety, abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea, stomach bloating, depressed mood
    Symptoms that always occur with panic disorder:
    anxiety
    Symptoms that never occur with panic disorder:
    agoraphobia
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Gad)

    Anxiety is a common emotion from time to time; however, persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worrying are signs of generalized anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder is diagnosed when a person worries more days than not for at least six months and has symptoms like fatigue, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.

    With long-term care, symptoms can be controlled with talk therapy, medication, and self-care.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, trouble sleeping, general anxiety (stress), irritability, nausea
    Symptoms that always occur with generalized anxiety disorder (gad):
    general anxiety (stress)
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Heart Attack

    Most heart attacks happen when a clot in the coronary artery blocks the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. Often this leads to an irregular heartbeat - called an arrhythmia - that causes a severe decrease in the pumping function of the heart.

    Indefinite

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    chest pain, shortness of breath, tight, heavy, squeezing chest pain, being severely ill, nausea
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service

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  5. 5.Diabetic Hypoglycemia

    Hypoglycemia (severely low blood sugar) can occur in Type 1 (more common) and Type 2 Diabetes. It is usually caused by poorly timed use of blood-sugar-controlling medication.

    Indefinite

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, irritability, anxiety, dizziness, racing heart beat
    Symptoms that always occur with diabetic hypoglycemia:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  6. 6.Sepsis

    Sepsis is a serious illness that is caused by the body's reaction to an infection and cause system-wide inflammation.

    Uncertain

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    being severely ill, shortness of breath, fever, feeling confused and not making sense while talking, abnormally high heartrate
    Symptoms that always occur with sepsis:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service
  7. 7.Guillain - Barre Syndrome

    Certain immune system conditions can damage the peripheral nervous system (PNS) which connect the brain and spinal cord with the rest of the body.

    This is a chronic condition.

    Rarity:
    Ultra rare
    Top Symptoms:
    diarrhea, shortness of breath, constipation, general numbness, spontaneous back pain
    Symptoms that always occur with guillain-barre syndrome:
    progressive weakness
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  8. 8.Acromegaly

    Acromegaly is an uncommon condition where the body makes too much growth hormone, which is a hormone made by the pituitary gland that stimulates growth and repair of various body tissues. In most cases the excess hormone comes from a small non-cancerous growth in the pituitary gland.

    Surgery is effective in returning hormone levels to normal, but body abnormalities will remain for life.

    Rarity:
    Ultra rare
    Top Symptoms:
    headache, fatigue, joint pain, weight gain, vision changes
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Excessive Sweating Treatments and Relief

It is important to seek emergency medical care if you have excessive sweating and:

For excessive sweating symptoms related to primary hyperhidrosis, treatment might involve:

  • Use of prescription strength antiperspirants. [10]
  • Botox treatment. Botox, injected into the areas of sweat production, suppresses sweating. [10]
  • Microwave thermolysis - microwave energy to destroy underarm sweat glands. [8]
  • Medications such as glycopyrrolate or oxybutynin, which are anticholinergic drugs. [11] Some of the side effects of anticholinergic drugs include urinary retention, [11] dry mouth, [11] headache, [11] and blurry vision. [8]
  • Iontophoresis - involves applying direct current through an ionic substance, usually tap water. [8]
  • Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy - involves cutting or cauterizing (burning) the upper thoracic sympathetic nerve chain. [8]

For sweating related to secondary hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating treatment should involve:

  • Treating the underlying condition to help relieve the symptom(s) of the condition, including excessive sweating. [10]
  • Treatment will depend on the condition itself. Graves disease and panic disorder, for example, can both be treated with medication prescribed by your healthcare provider. [10]

Tips to cope with excessive sweating symptoms, whatever the cause:

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods. [2,12]
  • If you smoke – stop. [13]
  • Apply antiperspirant in the morning and at night. [10]
  • Think about the color of your clothing. Navy, black, and white are least likely to show sweat stains, whereas sweat is much more obvious on brightly colored clothing. Patterned clothing – like plaid – is good at masking sweat stains. [15]
  • Wear clothes made of breathable fabrics; wear them in layers. [8]
  • Wear clothes made out of fabrics engineered to be sweat-proof or sweat blocking. [13]
  • Wear sweat pads to absorb the sweat before it reaches your clothes. [2]
  • Oxiclean products, hydrogen peroxide, and yellow stain removers can help get the sweat stains out of your clothes. [15]
  • Keep cooling gel packs in your pockets to quickly (and inconspicuously) cool and dry your hands. [14]
  • Apply antiperspirants to the palms of your hands at night, and the soles of your feet in the morning. Make sure to wash your hands in the morning (doing so will not stop the effectiveness of the antiperspirant). [8]

FAQs About Excessive Sweating

Here are some frequently asked questions about excessive sweating.

What causes severe sweating?

Excessive sweating with no identifiable medical cause (Primary Hyperhidrosis) may be caused by a variety of things, including an overactive nervous system in which the sympathetic nervous system triggers sweating in abnormal situations, or a sensitive stress response in which an individual experiences stress with a lower stimuli than most individuals. [10] It is normal to sweat in situations of emotional and physical stress as well as to cool the body when it is overly warm. [13] There is evidence to suggest that hyperhidrosis is hereditary to some degree. [13]

Why do I sweat when I eat?

Gustatory sweating — sweating on the face, neck, and scalp especially when eating spicy foods — is normal. [1] Though in excessive amounts it can occur after damage to the nerve supplying the spit gland. The nerve can heal in such a way that it also activates the sweat glands of the heads whenever saliva is to be produced. [16]

What causes sweaty hands?

Sweaty hands can be caused by a warm environment or exercise. Hands have multiple blood vessels, and cooling hands can contribute significantly to cooling core body temperature and allowing exercise for longer. However, sweaty palms are also associated with sympathetic nervous system activation due to emotional cues. [9]

Can you sweat too much?

Sweating excessively is not physically dangerous as long as the fluid is replaced by an equivalent amount of water and electrolytes. Usually a non-sweetened lemonade, watered down sports drink, or just water are sufficient replacements for fluid lost. [17] Sweating may, however, post significant social problems. It can be embarrassing. Most individuals with excessive sweating manage through behavior (e.g. changes of clothes, a handkerchief). [8] In extreme conditions, a surgery in which the nerve that causes sweating is clipped (sympathectomy) is possible. [8,18]

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Excessive Sweating

  • Q.Have you experienced any nausea?
  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Are you feeling irritable (easily made upset)?
  • Q.Do you notice your heart beating hard, rapidly, or irregularly (also called palpitations)?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our excessive sweating symptom checker to find out more.

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Excessive Sweating Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced excessive sweating have also experienced:

    • 6% Fatigue
    • 6% Nausea
    • 4% Abdominal Pain (Stomach Ache)
  • People who have experienced excessive sweating were most often matched with:

    • 33% Overactive Thyroid
    • 33% Panic Disorder
    • 33% Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Gad)
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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References

  1. Campanati A, Gregoriou S, Kontochristopoulos G, Offidani A. Oxybutynin for the Treatment of Primary Hyperhidrosis: Current State of the Art. Skin Apprendage Disorders. 2015;1(1):6-13. NCBI Link.
  2. Hyperhidrosis. British Association of Dermatology. Updated June 2018. BAD Link.
  3. Complications. International Hyperhidrosis Society. International Hyperhidrosis Society Link.
  4. Study Finds That Patients with Excessive Sweating Condition are More Likely to Develop Skin Infections. American Academy of Dermatology. Published May 7, 2009. AAD Link.
  5. Causes of Secondary Hyperhidrosis: Generalized Hyperhidrosis. International Hyperhidrosis Society. International Hyperhidrosis Society Link.
  6. Salman F, Oktaei H, Solomon S, Nyenwe E. Recurrent Graves' Hyperthyroidism After Prolonged Radioiodine-Induced Hypothyroidism. Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2017;8(7):111-115. NCBI Link.
  7. Causes of Secondary Hyperhidrosis: Hyperhidrosis and Psychiatric Illness, Incl Social Anxiety Disorder. International Hyperhidrosis Society. International Hyperhidrosis Society Link.
  8. Hyperhidrosis. NCH Healthcare System. Updated August 18, 2015. NCH Healthcare System Link.
  9. Physiology of Normal Sweating. International Hyperhidrosis Society. International Hyperhidrosis Society Link.
  10. Hyperhidrosis. University of Minnesota Health. MHealth Link.
  11. Campanati A, Gregoriou S, Kontochristopoulos G, Offidani A. Oxybutynin for the Treatment of Primary Hyperhidrosis: Current State of the Art. Skin Apprendage Disorders. 2015;1(1):6-13. NCBI Link.
  12. Kim TW, Shin YO, Lee JB, Min YK, Yang HM. Caffeine Increases Sweating Sensitivity Via Changes in Sudomotor Activity During Physical Loading. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2011;14(11):1448-1455. NCBI Link.
  13. Hyperhidrosis or Excessive Sweating and the Use of Botox. The Fontmell Clinic. The Fontmell Clinic Link.
  14. Hot Flushes. NHS. Updated August 29, 2018. NHS Link.
  15. Laundry Solutions. International Hyperhidrosis Society. International Hyperhidrosis Society Link.
  16. Causes of Secondary Hyperhidrosis: Focal Hyperhidrosis. International Hyperhidrosis Society. International Hyperhidrosis Society Link.
  17. Bates GP, Miller VS. Sweat Rate and Sodium Loss During Work in the Heat. Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology. 2008;3:4. NCBI Link.
  18. Krasna M, Jiao X. Thoracoscopic Sympathectomy. CTSNet. Published April 10, 2011. CTSNet Link.