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What is Hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis is the medical term for a condition where you sweat more than you need to.

Sweating is a normal physiological response to regulate our body temperature. This is mediated by the sympathetic nervous system. Everyone sweats when they get hot, but people who have hyperhidrosis sweat profusely for no reason at all. The sympathetic nervous system is activated in times of stress, our so-called flight/fright response, so it is not unusual to sweat in times of stress.

There are two types of hyperhidrosis. The most common type is primary hyperhidrosis where there is no underlying cause. This often begins in early life and continues into adulthood. It rarely subsides spontaneously. Secondary hyperhidrosis is due to diseases that affect hormonal levels such as raised thyroid hormone, and this will result in sweating all over your body.

Hyperhidrosis affects more than one in 100 people. It can be most distressing, causing you to feel anxious and embarrassed. We understand the huge impact this has on your life. Our aim at North Western Vascular is to help patients by overcoming their excessive sweating in the commonly affected areas, such as the palms of hands, soles of the feet and armpits, where the sweat (eccrine) glands are in abundance.

With the knowledge that the sweat glands are driven by the sympathetic nerves, interruption of the sympathetic nerve supply to an area will arrest sweating in that area. With the advent of laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery, it is possible to achieve this with an Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy (ETS).

Sweaty Hands (Palmar Hyperhidrosis) involves constant or excessive sweating of the palms. Wet, slippery hands are a source of frustration and embarrassment, both socially and in the work environment. This can lead to avoiding simple everyday activities such as shaking hands. It can also interfere with everyday tasks such as writing, gripping items or even impeding sporting activities.

Sweaty Feet (Plantar Hyperhidrosis) involves constant or excessive sweating of the feet. It may cause the need to change socks several times a day, avoid removing their shoes in public for fear of foot odour, or even avoid wearing sandals and thongs as they become too slippery.

Sweaty Armpits (Axillary Hyperhidrosis) involves constant or excessive sweating of the underarms. This is often associated with an unpleasant odour. It may lead to the need to shower several times a day to avoid body odour and embarrassment. Constant wet patches under the arms is embarrassing. There is frequently a need to cover up, and for some sufferers to frequently change their clothing.

Facial Blushing involves uncontrollable heat surges to the face and often upper chest. It may occur when attention is drawn to the sufferer. Facial blushing can happen on a daily basis with no means of control.