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Q: Sweat ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Sweat
Category: Health
Asked by: fleamarketeconomy-ga
List Price: $40.00
Posted: 23 Jan 2004 00:09 PST
Expires: 22 Feb 2004 00:09 PST
Question ID: 299218
I tend to sweat a lot more than other people when I do anything active.  
This is a real detriment to dancing.  In a warm, humid dance hall,
I'll be sweating profusely after the first song; this is uncomfortable
and horribly unattractive.  After half an hour, my hair will be
soaked, beads of sweat will be running down my face, and my shirt will
have unsightly damp patches front and back.

I don't want to give up dancing, so I need advice and background.  

What could cause this, and what might be some possible remedies
(medicinal,fitness,dietary)?  Is it potentially a symptom of something
more serious?  Primarily I'm concerned with the excessive sweat on my
scalp and face (palms, feet, and armpits aren't unusually bad--- it
doesn't sound like hyperhidrosis).  What sort of medical specialist
would be most knowledgeable about this?

My stats- male, 25 years old, average fitness (neither overweight nor
especially active).  Not on any medication, no interesting medicial
conditions except mild allergies to dust mites and milk.

I intend to ask a doctor about this in the near future, but I want
more background first.
Subject: Re: Sweat
Answered By: angy-ga on 23 Jan 2004 03:18 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi. Fleamarketeconomy ! (Great name !)

"Hyperhidrosis" is simply a Latin term meaning "excess sweating" -
it's not confined to any one reason for the sweating or type of
sweating. The point about sweaty hands
is well described by Excessive Sweating on their informative site at:

"Since excessive sweating usually shows up most on areas of the skin
that are relatively hairless, and have more sweat glands than other
areas, hyperhidrosis often manifests as sweaty hands and palms, sweaty
feet, underarm perspiration, and facial sweating. " But they make it
clear that different people may well suffer from excessive sweating in
different areas - for example, your forehead might sweat a lot, but
not your hands.

Elsewhere they say:

"Hyperhidrosis, also known as excessive sweating, is a medical
condition. There is no single cause of it. Because it is not a
disease, it can be a symptom of another medical condition such as a
disorder of the nerves. For some people, there may be no explainable
cause for their excessive sweating, and they may be considered to have
a medical condition known as essential (idiopathic or primary)
hyperhidrosis. This may be due to over activity of the nerves that
send signals to the sweat glands in the skin, the sympathetic nervous
system. Sometimes this idiopathic form of hyperhidrosis can be
genetically transmitted, and it often runs in families; this form may
first show up in early childhood. Other people may have sweating as a
symptom of known medical conditions, such as an overactive  thyroid
gland (hyperthyroidism), from nerve damage due to diabetes (autonomic
dysfunction) or spinal cord injuries..."  It can also be a symptom of
psychiatric disorders such as panic attacks or anxiety disorders.

So you will definitely want your doctor to check for a thyroid
condition, and for diabetes.

After a discussion of normal sweating, and a description of the nerves
that supply the sweat glands, they go on to a discussion of ways to
decrease the sweating:

".... one has to either cut down the nerve impulses to the sweat
glands, cut down on the acetylcholine, destroy the glands, or block
off their ducts, so that the sweat cannot flow out onto the skin. One
main way to cut down sweating is to use a medicine on the surface of
the skin to cause the sweat to thicken and plug up the ducts, which is
how the antiperspirants that are often used under the arms to decrease
underarm sweat and odor work. These usually contain aluminum metal
salts, such as aluminum chloride, which have to be frequently
reapplied, or else the clumps in the ducts will get dissolved,
unblocking the ducts and permitting sweating."

They then discuss the use of electrolysis, electric currents through
the skin, and cutting or destroying the nerves, which seems a bit
drastic. Finally they list some medications which may be of help:

"Medication may be taken internally that works to block the
neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, from stimulating the sweat glands.
Some of the more useful medications include the anticholinergics (such
as glycopyrrolate or atropine), some antihistamines, some
antidepressants, and some of the tranquilizers. However, these
medications will also affect other parts of the body, and may lead to
possible side effects, including dry mouth, drying of other
secretions, constipation, or other side effects. One new approach that
may work on small areas of skin that have excessive sweating is to
inject botulinum toxin (Botox®) into small areas of the skin (such as
the underarms), which blocks the acetylcholine for up to a few months
before it wears off ."

There is a FAQS page on the site, and a variety of  links some of
which seem to be outdated.

Ivo Tarfusser, MD has a page which supports these comments at:

It makes it clear that Hyperhidrosis can be facial rather than
affecting the hands or feet, and defines "hyperhidosis" rather

"Sweating is a natural phaenomenon [sic] necessary for the regulation
of an individual's body-temperature. The secretion of sweat is
mediated by a portion of our vegetative nervous system (the
Sympathetic Nervous System). In some people (approximately 1% of the
population), this system is working at a very high activity level, far
higher than needed to keep a constant temperature. This condition is
referred to as hyperhidrosis."

Dr. Tarfusser outlines a possible treatment:

"    * Sympathectomy

    - The principle of sympathectomy is to interrupt the nerve tracks
and nodes (ganglia) which transmit the signals to the sweat glands.
Basically, this can be achieved for all locations in the body, but
only the nerve nodes responsible for the sweat glands of the palms and
the face are accessible without the need for a major surgical
procedure. Today, the treatment of choice for moderate to severe
palmar and facial hyperhidrosis (but also axillary, especially if
combined with palmar sweating), consists in a surgical procedure known
as Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy. This minimal-invasive endoscopic
technique has been developed in recent years in a few hospitals in
Europe, superseeding [sic] Conventional Thoracic Sympathectomy, a very
traumatic procedure performed in the past. The endoscopic technique is
very safe, if performed by a surgeon experienced in this type of
procedure, and leads to definitive cure in nearly 100% of patients,
leaving only a minimal scar in the armpit."

Ivo's email address is on the site, as well as his phone number. Note
that he is in Italy, so there may be a time difference. He invites
comments. The site was updated last year - either in February or June
depending on whether he uses US or UK date presentation. Of course,
check out this procedure with your own doctor if you think it is a
possible for you.

Medline Plus has a page which outlines the kind of questions you can
expect your doctor to ask at:

"What to expect at your health care provider's office   
The medical history will be obtained and a physical examination performed.

Medical history questions documenting excessive sweating in detail may include:

    * location
          o Is it on face and/or palms?
          o Is it all over the body?
    * time pattern
          o Does it occur at night?
          o Did it begin suddenly?
          o How long have you had it?
    * aggravating factors
          o Does it occur in response to reminders of a traumatic event?
    * other
          o What other symptoms are also present?
          o Are there cold clammy hands?
          o Is there a fever?

Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:

    * blood tests depending on the suspected cause
    * X-rays or other imaging depending on the suspected cause"

They suggest you call your health care provider if  : 

    " * there is prolonged, excessive, and unexplained sweating.
    * sweating is accompanied or followed by chest pain or pressure.
    * sweating is accompanied by weight loss or occurs primarily at
night when sleeping."

These are potentially serious symptoms, so if this is part of your
story, make that appointment soon..

The site also mentions a number of drugs that can cause excessive
sweating, including caffeine and alcohol:

" drugs (including antipyretics, some antipsychotics,
sympathomimetics, caffeine, morphine, alcohol and thyroid hormone)"

and they point out that withdrawal from alcohol or narcotic analgesics
can also cause sweating.

Drugstore dot com suggest some alternate therapies at:

"Alternative treatments include walnut leaf and sage leaf. Sage leaf
oil is believed to contain a variety of natural ingredients that may
help to reduce sweating. It isn't known how the sage leaf works and
the effectiveness has yet to be proven by medical research. However,
some people find the aroma of sage appealing and claim to experience
good results.

Walnut leaf can also be used to dry the affected area, especially
hands and feet. You add 2 to 3 grams of the herb to about 3 ounces of
water. You then use the solution to make a compress or to soak the
area. While this mixture may work for some people it too has not been
confirmed by medical research. It is also important to point out that
a walnut leaf solution can dry the area, but it will not stop
perspiration. "

So, in summary, yes, see your doctor soon, since there are a variety
of physical problems that can cause excessive sweating, or have
sweating as part of their symptoms. Don't worry too much, since you
describe localised (if embarrassing) sweating during exercise, but
definitely get checked out. If you are cleared of any on-going
illness, then look at the various options for controlling the problem.
If nothing is found, then I suggest starting with some of the simpler
and cheaper possible remedies such as sage leaf oil and
anti-perspirants, working your way through to the surgical proceedures
if really necessary. Anti-histamines, which may help with this, should
also help with the allergies.

Meanwhile, are you really sure other people are as worried by this as
you are yourself ? I'm sure you have friends with - say - a birthmark
that embarrasses them immensely, but you never notice any more. And
you could try taking a sports bag or similar with a couple of clean
shirts to change into (if you roll them instead of folding there's a
good chance they won't look creased, - match them if it worries you,
but you'd be surprised how many people won't notice you've changed).
Tshirts take up even less space. Carry a spray men's cologne - a light
one - that has a refreshing scent. Use a wet-look gel on your hair -
so they won't notice, even if you do - chat for fifteen minutes, dance
for 30, do a quick wash up and change, and repeat.

If you have to, a quick joke, "Hey, that was some workout, phew!" lets
friends know that you're aware of the problem and you're cool about it
(even if you're not) .

Do please get yourself checked out, and then enjoy your dancing.

Search terms:
excessive sweating
fleamarketeconomy-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Very informative.  Thanks =)

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