Hyperhidrosis: What Causes Excessive Sweating?

What Is Hyperhidrosis?

excessive sweating

Hyperhidrosis is a condition that results in excessive sweating. While the body normally sweats to remove toxins and cool the body down, hyperhidrosis results in sweating to an abnormal extent. Excessive sweating can be categorized as sweating to the point of soaking clothing and bedsheets. Hyperhidrosis also refers to sweating that occurs when not exposed to warm temperatures or without exerting onself.


Hyperhidrosis can occur entirely on its own or as the result of emotional stress or an underlying medical condition including, but not limited to the following:

  • Autonomic dysreflexia
  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Posttraumatic syringomyelia
  • Familial dysautonomia (Riley-Day syndrome)
  • Congenital autonomic dysfunction with universal pain loss
  • Exposure to cold, notably associated with cold-induced sweating syndrome
  • Episodic with hypothermia (Hines and Bannick syndrome)
  • Episodic without hypothermia
  • Olfactory
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Anxiety
  • Menopausal state
  • Night sweats
  • Compensatory
  • Infantile acrodynia induced by chronic low-dose mercury exposure
  • Excessive caffeine intake
  • Cancer
  • Using certain medications


Primary Hyperhidrosis

Primary hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating that has no apparent underlying cause.

Secondary Hyperhidrosis

Secondary hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating that occurs as the result of an underlying condition.


  • Wet palms (hands)
  • Wet soles (feet)
  • Sweating frequently
  • Sweating in cold temperatures
  • Sweating without exertion
  • Sweating that soaks through clothing or bedding



Hyperhidrosis can be diagnosed by a primary care physician. Your doctor will carefully assess your medical history and reported symptoms. They will want to test you for underlying conditions that can cause hyperhidrosis. This will include bloodwork panels and possibly diagnostic imaging.


The most common treatment for hyperhidrosis is medication. This may include topical medications that act as an antiperspirant. Medications to treat the underlying cause of hyperhidrosis will likely be prescribed. In extreme cases, surgical intervention can help hyperhidrosis. Surgery to remove the sweat glands can resolve the problem entirely, but is only reserved for cases that interfere with the individual’s quality of life.

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