Causes of excessive sweating
What causes excessive sweating? This depends upon what type of hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) you have, either primary hyperhidrosis or secondary hyperhidrosis.
Problem in the sympathetic nervous system
Experts agree excessive sweating occurs due to a fault within the sympathetic nervous system which controls perspiration amongst other functions in the body.
There is a chain within this system which is particularly responsible for this function known as the ‘Thoracic Sympathetic Ganglion Chain’. This runs alongside the spinal cord and controls the production of sweat from the apocrine and eccrine glands.
But if something goes wrong within this chain then excessive sweating occurs or hyperhidrosis. Whichever part of the chain is affected impacts upon a certain area of the body.
For example over-stimulation within a part of the chain high up in the chest will cause excessive sweating from the armpits.
This over-activity is usually responsible for primary hyperhidrosis.
Other causes of excessive sweating
Genetics plays a part: excessive sweating is either inherited or is caused by certain genes within the body. If often develops in people who have a close relative with the same condition.
But certain medicines plus various medical conditions can also cause excessive sweating. Pregnancy, the menopause and obesity are other triggers for this condition.
Your lifestyle can play a part. If you smoke, consume alcohol/drugs or enjoy fatty or spicy foods then be aware that these can cause excessive sweating.
These are all causes of secondary hyperhidrosis. Your GP will refer you for tests to rule out any of these factors. If your excessive sweating is not caused by any of these then you classed as having primary hyperhidrosis.
Note: many people assume that excessive sweating is caused by ‘nerves’. Anyone with this condition is considered to be under stress, suffering from anxiety or a nervous personality which is why they sweat more than other people.
But this has been found not to be the case. Many sufferers are no more prone to stress or anxiety than non-sufferers and if they do exhibit these symptoms then this is more likely to be a side effect of their condition.
In other words, they are anxious because of their excessive sweating rather than this being the cause of their illness.
There are certain psychiatric disorders which cause excessive sweating but it is important not to assume that every case is psychological in origin and suffered by stressed, anxious people.
Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)
- Guide to Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)
- What is excessive sweating?
- Types of excessive sweating
- General hyperhidrosis
- Primary focal hyperhidrosis
- Secondary focal hyperhidrosis
- Sleep hyperhidrosis
- Causes of excessive sweating
- Symptoms of excessive sweating
- Diagnosis of excessive sweating
- Treatment for excessive sweating
- Lifestyle changes
- Sweat pads
- Botulinum toxin
- Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy
- Sweat gland suction
- Long term effects of excessive sweating
- Excessive sweating FAQs