Sweating is the act of secreting fluid from the skin by the sweat (sudoriferous) glands. These are small tubular glands situated within and under the skin (in the subcutaneous tissue). They discharge by tiny openings in the surface of the skin. Sweating is a normal response that helps regulate body temperature. People sweat more when it's hot outside or when they exercise. Increased sweating can also occur due to emotional states such as anger, fear, nervousness, or embarrassment.
Excessive sweating is referred to as hyperhidrosis, and some people may have a tendency to excessive sweating, known as primary hyperhidrosis. Sweating can also be a symptom of several medical conditions, especially when the sweating is excessive or inappropriate. Many types of infections and cancers are associated with increased sweating that particularly occurs at night. Sweating may accompany hot flashes during the menopausal transition. Damage to the autonomic nerves for any reason, for example, as a result of diabetes, can cause excessive sweating.
Excessive sweating can sometimes be treated with prescription antiperspirants containing aluminum chloride, anticholinergic medications such as glycopyrrolate (Robinul), or with botulinum toxin (Botox) injections.
Other causes of excessive sweating
- Autonomic Nervous System Damage (Autonomic Neuropathy)
- Bacterial Infections
- Drug Overdose
- Emotional Disturbances
- Fungal Infections
- Malignant Tumors
- Viral Infections
- Warm Environment
Main Article on Excessive Sweating
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
19 Health Problems in Men: Snoring, Hair Loss, and More
What are the biggest body health issues that plague men? Most men struggle with belly fat, back hair, sweating, erectile...
Picture of Hyperhidrosis: Starch-Iodine Test
Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, is a common disorder that produces a lot of unhappiness. An estimated 2%-3% of Americans...
Sweating (Perspiration) Quiz: Test Your IQ
What is the medical term for excessive sweating? Take the Sweating (Perspiration) Quiz to learn the benefits of sweating. Yes,...
Sweating: Why We Sweat, What’s Normal, and What’s Excessive (Hyperhidrosis)?
Read about hyperhidrosis (excessive axillary, palmar, plantar sweating) treatment (antiperspirant, Botox, surgery), a sign of,...
Causes of Excessive Sweating
Carcinoid Syndrome (Tumor)
A carcinoid tumor is a tumor that develops from enterochromaffin cells. The important characteristic of carcinoid tumors that sets them apart from other gastrointestinal tract tumors, is their potential to cause the carcinoid syndrome. Local symptoms may include abdominal pain, intestinal bleeding, flushing., gastrointestinal bleeding, and diarrhea. Often, symptoms of the carcinoid syndrome can be more devastating than the local symptoms. There are many options for the treatment of carcinoid tumors and carcinoid syndrome.
Cluster headaches are a type of headache that recurs over a period. Episodes can last one to three times a day during this time, which may last from 2 weeks to 3 months. The three main types of treatments for cluster headaches are, 1) Abortive medications that work to stop the process in the brain that causes migraines and stops the symptoms too. 2) Preventive prescription medications, or 3) surgery which involves blocking the trigeminal nerve.
Drug Abuse and Addiction
Drug abuse and addiction is a chronic disease that causes drug-seeking behavior and drug use despite negative consequences to the user and those around him. Though the initial decision to use drugs is voluntary, changes in the brain caused by repeated drug abuse can affect a person's self-control and ability to make the right decisions and increase the urge to take drugs. Drug abuse and addiction are preventable.
Endocarditis, a serious infection of one of the four heart valves is caused by growth of bacteria on one of the heart valves; leading to an infected massed called a "vegetation." The infection can be caused by having bacteria in the bloodstream after dental work, colonoscopy, or other similar procedures. Endocarditis symptoms include fever, fatigue, weakness, chills, aching muscles and joints, night sweats, edema in the legs, feet, or abdomen, malaise, shortness of breath and small skin lesions. Treatment for endocarditis is generally aggressive antibiotic treatment.
Although a fever technically is any body temperature above the normal of 98.6 F (37 C), in practice, a person is usually not considered to have a significant fever until the temperature is above 100.4 F (38 C). Fever is part of the body's own disease-fighting arsenal; rising body temperatures apparently are capable of killing off many disease-producing organisms.
Influenza (flu) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. The flu may be prevented with an annual influenza vaccination.
Heat Rash: Symptoms and Treatment
Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating. It can occur at any age and it appears as a rash that itches or feels prickly, and looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters. Heat rash remedies include OTC creams and sprays. Usually heat rash resolves when the skin is cooled sufficiently. Medical treatment may be necessary if the sweat glands become infected.
Hodgkin's disease is a cancer of the lymphatic system with symptoms that include unexplained, recurring fevers, unexplained weight loss, itchy skin, and painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, and groin. Treatment for adult Hodgkin's disease depends on the staging of the disease, the size of the lymph nodes, and the health of the patient.
How Do I Know if I Have Hyperhidrosis?
If you find yourself sweating excessively even when you're not very hot, you may have hyperhidrosis. This condition affects about 3% of the world population'. People with hyperhidrosis tend to sweat when they're at rest and not exerting themselves.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection left untreated causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a type of virus called a retrovirus, which can infect humans when it comes in contact with tissues that line the vagina, anal area, mouth, or eyes, or through a break in the skin. HIV infection is generally a slowly progressive disease in which the virus is present throughout the body at all stages of the disease. Three stages of HIV infection have been described. The initial stage of infection (primary infection), which occurs within weeks of acquiring the virus, often is characterized by the flu- or mono-like illness that generally resolves within weeks. The stage of chronic asymptomatic infection (meaning a long duration of infection without symptoms) lasts an average of eight to 10 years without treatment. The stage of symptomatic infection, in which the body's immune (or defense) system has been suppressed and complications have developed, is called the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The symptoms are caused by the complications of AIDS, which include one or more unusual infections or cancers, severe loss of weight, and intellectual deterioration (called dementia). When HIV grows (that is, by reproducing itself), it acquires the ability to change (mutate) its own structure. These mutations enable the virus to become resistant to previously effective drug therapy. The goals of drug therapy are to prevent damage to the immune system by the HIV virus and to halt or delay the progress of the infection to symptomatic disease. Therapy for HIV includes combinations of drugs that decrease the growth of the virus to such an extent that the treatment prevents or markedly delays the development of viral resistance to the drugs. The best combination of drugs for HIV are those that effectively suppress viral replication in the blood and also are well tolerated and simple to take so that people can take the medications consistently without missing doses.
Hyperthyroidism is an excess of thyroid hormone due to an overactive thyroid gland. Symptoms can include increased heart rate, weight loss, heart palpitations, frequent bowel movements, depression, fatigue, fine or brittle hair, sleep problems, thinning skin, and irregular vaginal bleeding. Graves' disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Many other health problems or taking excess thyroid hormone medication can cause an overactive thyroid gland. Treatment for the condition is with medication, radioactive iodine, thyroid surgery (rarely), or reducing the dose of thyroid hormone. No diet has been shown to treat hyperthyroidism or its symptoms and signs.
Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood cells in which the growth and development of the blood cells are abnormal. Strictly speaking, leukemia should refer only to cancer of the white blood cells (the leukocytes) but in practice, it can apply to malignancy of any cellular element in the blood or bone marrow, as in red cell leukemia (erythroleukemia).
Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)
Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar is dangerously low and is often complication of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Learn about symptoms, dangers, and treatment.
Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone. Potential causes include injections around the bone, fractures that puncture the skin, recent surgeries, and bacterial infections that travel from other areas of the body, spreading through the blood to the bone. Symptoms include pain, fever, chills, stiffness, and nausea. Treatment involves antibiotics and pain medications. Surgery is sometimes necessary.
Peripheral neuropathy is a problem with the functioning of the nerves outside of the spinal cord. Symptoms may include numbness, weakness, burning pain (especially at night), and loss of reflexes. Possible causes may include carpel tunnel syndrome, shingles, vitamin or nutritional deficiencies, and illnesses like diabetes, syphilis, AIDS, and kidney failure. Peripheral neuropathy is diagnosed with exams and tests. Treatment for the condition depends on the cause. Usually, the prognosis for peripheral neuropathy is good if the cause can be successfully treated or prevented.
Pheochromocytoma is a tumor of the adrenal gland. Pheochromocytomas are quite rare and the vast majority of them are entirely benign. Only very rarely is a pheochromocytoma malignant. People with pheochromocytoma usually show these three symptoms headache, sweating, and heart palpitations (a fast heart beat) in association with markedly elevated blood pressure (hypertension).
What is shock? A life-threatening condition with symptoms like low blood pressure, weakness, shallow breathing, clammy skin, fainting, anxiety, confusion, and chest pain. Learn about causes, types, and treatment.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). Symptoms and signs of TB include bloody sputum, fever, cough, weight loss, and chest pain. Treatment depends upon the type of TB infection.
What Are the Symptoms of Chromidrosis?
Chromidrosis is a rare, but chronic condition that causes a person to have colorful sweat. The most obvious symptom of chromidrosis is sweating colored sweat. Other symptoms include prickly sensations and worse sweating with stress or excitement.
What Happens During Menopause?
Menopause is the time in a woman's life when menstrual periods permanently stop, also called the "change of life." Menopause symptoms and signs include hot flashes, night sweats, irregular vaginal bleeding, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, urinary incontinence, weight gain, and emotional symptoms such as mood swings. Treatment of menopausal symptoms varies and should be discussed with your physician.
What is the Best Treatment for Hyperhidrosis?
Excessive sweating is called hyperhidrosis. Treatment options for hyperhidrosis include prescription drying medications, injections and surgery.