When a person sweats excessively, this can be the source of many taunts, teases and embarrassment. However, what some do not know is that this is an actual medical condition that affects many different individuals. Also known as hyperhidrosis, there are two main types of this condition, focal and generalized hyperhidrosis. Despite the fact that both are synonymous for excessive sweating, there are differences between these types.
What is the Difference Between Focal and Generalized Hyperhidrosis?
The term focal generally applies when the condition is localized to a specific area or areas of the body. With this type, excessive sweating may be limited to the hands, feet and sometimes the underarms. Unlike the generalized, a cause is typically not identifiable and it is often linked to heredity. The generalized form on the other hand can cause excessive sweating over the entire body and although the causes aren’t always identifiable, they can be associated with various disorders and conditions. These may include but are not limited to obesity, overactive thyroid, heart attack and medications, just to name a few.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Of course, the number one ailment associated with this disorder consists of excessive sweating. However, this alone is not sufficient grounds to make such a diagnosis. Diagnostic criteria for this condition may include having bouts of sweating at least once per week that are excessive for unknown reasons, with the problem persisting over a period of time. First and foremost, the physician may perform a physical and request various lab tests to rule out a possible health condition. Following a clean bill of health, he or she may order a thermoregulatory sweat test. This test can assist in determining whether or not the person actually suffers from this disorder and provides insight into how bad the problem actually is.
How is Hyperhidrosis Treated?
How the condition is treated when depend on several different factors, including whether or not the cause is known. There are several different options that the patient may have. It may be as simple as utilizing different products or in some extreme cases, surgery. Medicated deodorants and creams that are available by prescription only are often effective if the excessive sweating is localized. Another option is to have Botox injections in that particular area of the body. Those suffering from generalized hyperhidrosis may be able to benefit from some oral prescription medications.
An Overview of Hyperhidrosis or Excessive Sweating. WebMD. Reviewed 6, January 2010. Viewed 03, January 2011. http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hyperhidrosis2
Hyperhidrosis (Excessive Sweating). Mayo Clinic. 30, July 2010. Viewed 03, January 2011.