Hyperhidrosis is the medical term for excessive sweating, resulting from excessive sympathetic nervous stimulation of the sweat glands. Everyone sweats when they are very hot, but people who have hyperhidrosis sweat profusely for no reason at all.
In virtually all cases, there is no other underlying disorder but hyperhidrosis can be distressing and have a huge impact on the sufferer’s life. Our aim at North Western Vascular Surgery in Melbourne is to help patients overcome their excessive sweating problems in commonly affected areas, such as are the palms of hands, soles of the feet and armpits.
What is Hyperhidrosis?
Sweating is a normal physiological response mediated by part of the autonomic system called the Sympathetic nervous system. It is our temperature regulator, cooling the body on hot days and when we exercise, preventing us from over-heating. The sympathetic nervous system is also called upon in times of stress, our so-called flight/fright response, so it is not unusual to break out in a cold sweat in times of stress.
For some people, this sympathetic response is exaggerated and excessive sweating may occur spontaneously, even in a cool environment, and even in the absence of any stress. When this exaggerated response occurs, we call that condition Hyperhidrosis.
It is most likely to occur in areas of the body, where the sweat (eccrine) glands are in abundance. Hence the predilection for the hands, feet, underarms (axillae) and face/scalp.
Facial blushing is also a physiological response to feeling threatened, and like sweating is mediated by the sympathetic nervous system.