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Excessive Sweating Affects Many

The condition is more common than thought, survey finds

(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)

MONDAY, Aug. 25, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A condition where people suffer excessive sweating is more common than previously thought, says a Saint Louis University study.

The study found that about 7.8 million Americans suffers have the condition, called hyperhidrosis, which can result in anxiety, depression, isolation and reduced quality of life. The study was based on a survey of 150,000 households.

"The fact that we had an incredibly large response rate to our survey (80 percent) tells us this is not a mild nuisance experienced by a few people. This is a big problem that interests people. Frankly, I was a little surprised at the high percentage of those affected," researcher Dr. Dee Anna Glaser, an associate professor of dermatology, says in a news release.

Sweating, which is regulated by the sympathetic nervous system, helps control body temperature during exercising or coping with hot or warm environments. But people with hyperhidrosis have an overactive system that causes sweating at inappropriate times in specific areas of the body, such as the scalp, face, hands, armpits, feet or trunk.

Hyperhidrosis affects men and women equally.

The study found 90 percent of the respondents who had the condition said sweating interfered with their lives. You or someone you know may suffer from hyperhidrosis if:

  • You think you sweat more than normal.
  • You have to carry a handkerchief to wipe your hands of sweat or need to keep an extra shirt in your office to change out of sweaty shirt.
  • People comment on your excessive sweating.
  • You sweat even in cool environments.
  • Your sweating waxes and wanes.
  • Your sweating is brought on by stress.
  • You sweat through multiply layers of clothing.
  • You change clothes several times a day because of sweating.
  • You frequently have to buy new clothes because sweat stains soil your wardrobe.

Topical and oral medications are among the treatments for people with hyperhidrosis. If those fail, surgery or botox may be options.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about excessive sweating.

SOURCE: Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center, news release, August 2003
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