Excessive sweating

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Definition

Excessive sweating is when you sweat more than you might expect based on the surrounding temperature or your activity level or stress. Excessive sweating can disrupt daily activities and cause social anxiety or embarrassment.

Excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis (hi-pur-hi-DROE-sis), can affect your entire body or just certain areas, particularly your palms, soles, underarms or face. The type that typically affects the hands and feet causes at least one episode a week, during waking hours.

Causes

If heavy sweating has no underlying medical cause, it’s called primary hyperhidrosis. This type occurs when the nerves responsible for triggering your sweat glands become overactive and call for more perspiration even when it’s not needed. Primary hyperhidrosis may be at least partially hereditary.

If the sweating can be attributed to an underlying medical condition, it’s called secondary hyperhidrosis.

Health conditions that may cause excessive sweating include:

  • Diabetes
  • Endocarditis
  • Fever of undetermined cause
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Heart attack
  • Heat exhaustion
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hyperhidrosis
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Leukemia
  • Malaria
  • Medication side effects, such as sometimes experienced when taking some beta blockers and antidepressants
  • Menopause
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Tuberculosis

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