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Q: Severe Sleep Hyperhidrosis ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Severe Sleep Hyperhidrosis
Category: Health > Conditions and Diseases
Asked by: pablo6767-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 27 Aug 2003 07:41 PDT
Expires: 26 Sep 2003 07:41 PDT
Question ID: 249221
My father suffers from severe sleeping sweats (Sleep Hyperhidrosis)
which is ruining his life. He is 62 years old and originally suffered
from the same complaint when 17 years old. The Doctor at the time
diagnosed a problem with the nervous system, prescribed (unknown)
tablets and it cleared up. He warned that it would resurface and it
did 15 years ago. My father has not had a full nights sleep since.
He has been tested negaitive for Thyroid, TB, Hormones, Liver and
Kidneys problems and has received an ECG all from our local NHS
Hospital. He is aware of possible Sleep Apea but his Doctor doesn`t
think it is this. Any diagnosis, particularily regarding the nervous
system would be gratefully received.
I feel I should mention that he is retired and is therefore relatively
inactive. His diet is less than ideal and he smokes. Apart from that
he is reasonably fit.
Subject: Re: Severe Sleep Hyperhidrosis
Answered By: blinkwilliams-ga on 27 Aug 2003 10:35 PDT
Hi pablo6767

Thanks for the question.

Disclaimer:  Please note that answers and comments provided on Google
Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute
for informed professional medical advice.

There are two main types of hyperhidrosis, primary and secondary
hyperhidrosis, and sleep hyperhidrosis is usually classified as
secondary hyperhidrosis.  Secondary hyperhidrosis is directly linked
to an underlying cause, and some causes are serious medical
conditions.  Any diagnosis needs to be made by a professional.

Possible Causes of Secondary Hyperhidrosis

A list of possible causes can be found in several articles that are
available through the National Library of Medicine.

 “Diagnosing night sweats” by AJ Viera from the Family Practice
Department, Naval Hospital Jacksonville:

“Prevalence of night sweats in primary care patients” by JW Mold from
the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma Center for
Family Medicine Research

Here’s a summary of the some of the causes for night sweats listed in
these articles and from web sites listed below.  These should be
discussed with your father’s doctor.

-Obstructive sleep apnea
-Acid reflux disease
-Pheochromocytoma (secretion from usually benign cells in the brain
that produces excessive sweating as one of its symptoms)
-Prostate cancer
-Familial dysautomia (a congenital syndrome with specific disturbances
of the nervous system)
-Increased weight
-Greater alcohol use

There are also other, more rare possibilities, that your doctor would
also need to examine.

For more information on possible causes of secondary hyperhidrosis

Since your father might have sleep issues, and this is known to be
associated with night sweating, having his sleep examined is a

These site has information on sleep disorders and can help you find a
sleep lab:

Primary hyperhidrosis is a genetic disorder characterized by an
overactive sympathetic nervous system.  Unlike secondary
hyperhidrosis, it does not result from some underlying cause.  In
cases of primary hyperhidrosis, various kinds of treatment are

Treatment Options

Oral Medications – There are some drugs that are able to block
receivers on nerves in the sympathetic nervous system.  Among these
are Robinul, Ditropan and Probanthine.  Note that these medications
are not designed specifically for treatment of hyperhidrosis although
they have been found to be successful in treating the disorder:

For more information on these drugs and their success in treating
hyperhidrosis see:

In addition, certain psychotropic drugs such as amitriptyline have
proven to be effective in the treatment of hyperhidrosis.

See also:

Botox – Botox treatment has been used to treat hyperhidrosis.  Botox
blocks the chemical transmitter that causes sweating.  Most often
Botox treatment is used to stop armpit sweating.  One treatment can
alleviate armpit sweating for 3 to 12 months.

For more information on Botox treatment for hyperhidrosis see:

Surgery – There is a minimally invasive surgical procedure which can
permanently cure hyperhidrosis.  The procedure involves the removal of
a part of the sympathetic nerve.  The sympathetic nerve is separate
from the somatic nerves that control motor function and sensation so
removing part of the sympathetic nerve has no effect on motor function
or the experiencing of sensation.  This procedure is called
thoracoscopic sympathectomy or endoscopic thoracoscopic sympathectomy
(or ETS).  This procedure used to be fairly invasive because the
surgeon had to open the thoracic cavity, however now the procedure can
be done with endoscopic surgery which only requires a small incision. 
A very detailed account of this procedure can be found at:

Possible Side-Effects of the Surgery can be found at:

Additional Links

There are various centers that specialize in the treatment of
hyperhidrosis.  They include:

USA Center for Hyperhidrosis Treatment
Phone: 516.255.5010 

Phone: 800.373-7326 

End Sweat – The California Institute for Hyperhidrosis and Facial

Other links related to hyperhidrosis include:

University of Maryland Medicine

Excessive Sweating Net

Stanford University

Search Method

Google Search Terms:

sleep hyperhidrosis
hyperhidrosis botox
hyperhidrosis “nervous system”
“sleep hyperhidrosis” treatment
hyperhidrosis robinul

If you are unsatisfied with any portion of this answer please request
clarification prior to submitting a rating.

Best of luck,


Request for Answer Clarification by pablo6767-ga on 15 Sep 2003 03:05 PDT
Good Morning blinkwilliams.

Sorry Its taken so long to get back to you but I was on holiday and
then my dad was waiting for a Doctors appointment to discuss your

His Doctors has suggested he has a specific problem with his nervous
system. That is, its suggested to be an "Over Active Nervous System".
Could you clarify your finding with regards to the nervous system or
delve deeper if possible.

Clarification of Answer by blinkwilliams-ga on 15 Sep 2003 10:57 PDT
Hi again Pablo6767,

Let me do my best to address your clarification request. From what
your doctor said it sounds like your father has primary hyperhidrosis
rather than secondary hyperhidrosis.  Secondary hyperhidrosis results
from some underlying cause (such as those mentioned in the first
portion of my answer).  Primary hyperhidrosis, on the other hand, is a
general condition that results from an overactive sympathetic nervous
system. As I state in my answer, the sympathetic nervous system is the
part of the nervous system that controls sweating.  Primary
hyperhidrosis results not because of some underlying cause, but rather
because of a genetic disposition for the sympathetic nervous system to
over-react.  If your doctor has ruled out any of the underlying
conditions that lead to hyperhydrosis, then it probably is the result
of an overactive sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous
system "works too hard" (to state it simply) and causes
overstimulation of the sweat glands. Normally, when we get nervous or
excited the sympathic nervous system stimulates the sweat glands and
as a result they produce sweat.  In the case of primary hyperhidrosis,
the sympathetic nervous system is stimulating sweat glands at times
when it shouldn't be.  This is what leads to excessive sweating.

There are a number of treatments for treating an overactive
sympathetic nervous system, however there doesn’t seem to be a single
obvious way of treating it.  Rather the treatment involves trying a
number of different methods and seeing which one works best.  One
option that you might wish to discuss with your doctor involves taking
certain medications that I mention in my original answer; such as
Drysol, Drionics, Robinul, Propantheline, Ditropan or Maxim.  These
drugs have had a certain amount of success in treating primary
hyperhidrosis by affecting and blocking the signals of an overactive
nervous system.  You should consult your doctor about these forms of
medication and whether they would be appropriate in your father’s

A second option for treating an overactive sympathetic nervous system
is through Botox (or Botulinum toxin) treatments.  A botox treatment
inhibits the release of certain chemicals generated by an overactive
nervous system that cause sweating.  As I mentioned in my answer
however, Botox treatments are not a permanent fix: they usually
relieve sweating for 4-6 months.

More info on this specific treatment method may be found at:

Finally the third treatment for an overactive sympathetic nervous
system is the procedure known as endoscopic thoracoscopic
sympathectomy (ETS).  This treats an overactive sympathetic nervous
system by actually removing part of it.  This procedure has brought
success in cases where medications have failed.  Removing part of the
sympathetic nervous system used to not be a reasonable option for
sufferers of primary hyperhidrosis since the procedure was very
invasive.  Nowadays however, it can be done using a much less invasive
surgical procedure.  In my answer I provide some links to sites that
discuss the procedure in more detail.  Another such site can be found

Unfortunately, there isn’t a single method for curing an overactive
sympathetic nervous system.  For some people the medication might
work, others might require the surgery to solve the problem.  All the
methods that I list, however, are meant to address the problem of an
overactive sympathetic nervous system.  I would suggest discussing the
treatment options with your doctor in order to determine which ones
are best suited for your father.  If the hyperhidrosis were caused by
some underlying condition (such as sleep apnea) then you could simply
treat the underlying cause.  Primary hyperhidrosis, in which the
sympathetic nervous system over-reacts, is a little more tricky to
treat since there is no treatable underlying problem that is the cause
of it.  Rather you must find a way to keep the sympathetic nervous
system from over-reacting and the current ways for doing that are the
treatment options that I listed above: medication (such as Robinul),
Botox treatment or ETS.

An additional resource for the treatments of primary hyperhidrosis
that covers much of what I state above may be found at the following

Hope I’ve been able to clarify my answer.  Please do not hesitate to
ask for clarification again if anything has been unclear or I didn’t
respond to the particular questions you had in mind.

Best wishes,

There are no comments at this time.

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