Definition of hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)
Excessive sweating can affect your entire body or just your palms, soles, underarms or face. Excessive sweating is usually defined as sweating an amount out of proportion with the temperature of a room or your activity level. Besides disrupting normal daily activities, excessive sweating can cause social anxiety or embarrassment.
Causes of hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)
Strenuous physical activity and warm temperatures are commonly associated with excessive sweating. You may also sweat excessively as a result of a fever.
Excessive sweating that affects large areas of the body and that occurs while you’re awake and asleep is likely a side effect of a drug or a sign of a disease or condition, such as menopause hot flashes, anxiety or overactive thyroid.
Excessive daytime sweating of the palms, soles and underarms for no apparent reason is known as focal hyperhidrosis. This type of excessive sweating typically stops when you’re sleeping and isn’t associated with an underlying condition.
Medical causes of excessive sweating include:
- Fever of undetermined cause
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Heart attack
- Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
- Medications, such as some beta blockers and tricyclic antidepressants
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
When to see a doctor
Call 911 or get emergency medical help
Sweating by itself is rarely a medical emergency. However, if sweating is accompanied by additional symptoms — such as chills, lightheadedness, or chest or stomach pain — seek immediate medical attention. A cold sweat can be your body’s response to an underlying problem, such as a heart attack.
Schedule a doctor’s visit
Contact your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- You suddenly begin to sweat more than usual.
- Sweating disrupts your daily routine.
- You experience night sweats for no apparent reason.
Most types of excessive sweating respond well to treatment.