Ask the Doctor: My sweating is really embarrassing

I am a 27-year-old mother of one with unique problems. I am not sure if it’s a health problem though. Lately I have been sweating a little too much.  The sweating is more profuse during mornings; I always take a bath before leaving for work. I only take a five minute walk to the taxi park.

I am a 27-year-old mother of one with unique problems. I am not sure if it’s a health problem though. Lately I have been sweating a little too much.  The sweating is more profuse during mornings; I always take a bath before leaving for work. I only take a five minute walk to the taxi park.

By the time I get to the office 20 minutes later, I am sweating profusely even when it is chilly.  It is the same thing during night time; after dinner (which is usually light) I go to bed okay but after a while I wake up soaked in sweat. 

 

At first I thought it would pass or I would get used to it but it is beginning to make me uncomfortable in public or around my work mates.  I am not over weight; I weighed 64 kg the last time I stood on a weighing scale, which was a week ago.

 

Stella, Remera

 

Dear Stella,

Excess sweating occurs due to the adrenergic response of the body to some stress. This could be due to some occult infection like amoebiasis or worm infestation. Most of the other infections also cause sweating but there are associated symptoms and signs of the infection making it easy to diagnose.

Stress, whether physical or mental, causes excess sweating in many individuals. This may or may not be associated with dryness of the mouth, palpitations, insomnia and other symptoms of stress.  

Hyperthyroidism can cause sweating due to over activity of the thyroid gland which results in excess adrenergic activity in the body.

Sweating also occurs due to low blood glucose levels in the body. This results if one has not eaten for a long time and has been working or exercising like conditions demanding more energy from body. An individual who is diabetic could be more prone to hypoglycemia as well. 

Angina pectoris (where blood supply to the heart is curtailed momentarily while walking/working) sometimes causes only sweating as a manifestation. This comes after doing some work, walking or exercise and subsides a few minutes after cessation the activity.

Apart from these common causes, some people are just prone to excess sweating for no reason. This is particularly in moist areas of the body like the palms, underarms and soles. This tendency may also be genetic.

Excess sweating is usually a harmless condition. The only thing it can cause is embarrassment. Remember that sweat by itself does not cause a foul smell, it is the clothes which when become damp due to sweat, smell bad.  Sometimes one may develop fungal infections in the areas of sweating due to the humidity. 

There are just some simple measures which you can follow to avoid excess sweating. However busy you are, try not to leave home with out breakfast.  

Avoid wearing tight clothes and those made of nylon or any synthetic material. Cotton will always be useful in this regard. Try to wear fresh, clean clothes every day; avoid using clothes worn for long time during the day or some days before.  

The use of powder in sweat prone areas or anti perspiration agents containing ammonium chloride is beneficial.  Most important is to learn to remain relaxed physically as well as mentally. 

If the problem persists, you can also get tested for diabetes as well as thyroid function tests. Surgical removal of the sweat producing glands can help solve this problem. 

But this procedure can make one more prone to infections because sweat removes dirt as well as germs from the body. A local injection of botilinum toxin is yet another measure said to be useful.

Dr. Rachna Pande is a Specialist in Internal Medicine at Ruhengeri Hospital

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