Overactive Sweat Glands
Understand what causes excessive sweating, the causes that lead to overactive sweat glands including any
genetic, medical or other related conditions.
Sweating occurs when the body regulate our body temperature to cool the body down. When our bodies begin to get
too hot, sweating releases moisture and in the process, heat is release from the body.
As such, sweating usually happens when we do something that causes our body temperature to rise, such as
exercise, being under the hot sun or after a meal. Emotional responses like stress, embarrassment or anxiety can
also cause our body to secrete epinephrine from the adrenaline glands, which in turn react on the sweat glands to
There are two types of sweat glands in the human body: eccrine, found in hands, feet and armpits, secreting a
thin, odorless liquid; and apocrine, found in armpits and genital area, secreting a thick liquid that produces body
odor. Excessive sweating generally involves the eccrine sweat glands.
Image Credit: HowStuffWorks.com
Illustration of eccrine sweat glands
In normal sweating, the eccrine glands release sweat to maintain normal body temperature. In hyperhidrosis, the
sweat glands produce up to three to four times more sweat than the body requires. As such, sufferers of
hyperhidrosis usually have very sweaty palms and feet.
While occasional excessive sweating occurs due to anxiety or a fever, a chronic condition is caused by disorder
of sweat glands, thyroid problems or a nervous system disorder, which could originate in the brain, specifically in
the anterior cingulated cortex.
One of the primary causes of overactive sweat glands is thyroid gland malfunctioning. The thyroid gland is
located near the voice box and absorbs iodine from the diet. The thyroid gland releases hormones, which contains
iodine that affects the body temperature that can lead to hyperhidrosis.
An overactive thyroid gland leads to hyperthyroidism whereby the thyroid excretes excessive thyroid hormones,
thus leading to hormonal imbalances resulting in hyperhidrosis. Excessive sweating is caused by high metabolism
rate that is most of the times instigated by the thyroid gland.
Hyperhidrosis can also be caused by other medical conditions or medications. Some conditions that lead to
overactive sweat glands include:
- Heart disease
- Parkinson's disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Metabolic dysfunction
- Nerve damage due to diabetes (autonomic dysfunction) or spinal cord injuries
- Liver disease
- Psychiatric disorders such as stress, panic attacks or anxiety disorders
- Hot flashes associated with menopause
A few of the possible trigger medications for secondary hyperhidrosis include:
- Desipramine (Norpramin)
- Esomeprazole (Nexium)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac; Sarafem)
- Nortriptyline (Pamelor)
- Pilocarpine (Isopto Carpine; Pilopine HS; Salagen)
- Protriptyline (Vivactil)
- Zinc supplements
Overactive sweat glands cause excessive sweating on various parts of the body and can cause discomfort, and many
times, embarrassing moments. However, if you are suffering from excessive perspiration, start adopting a healthy
lifestyle by making changes in your diet and follow medical advice, and you can definitely treat the problem, or at
least control it.
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