What Causes Increased Sweating?

The sympathetic nervous system in the body is an important part of stressful situations. The sympathetic nervous system triggers a variety of responses, including increased secretion from sweat glands when you are under stress or when your blood glucose level drops below normal. Because these reactions cause heat production and increase sweating, people who have higher levels of certain hormones in their bodies may feel more anxious or uncomfortable when they experience high levels of perceived danger or stress. This results in a greater need to lower their bodily temperature by increasing the amount of fluid that is lost through perspiration, which can lead to hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating).

How common is hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis occurs most often during times when your body’s internal thermostat becomes overly sensitive to changes in environmental temperatures. It also typically occurs at night and worsens with age because there are fewer nerve endings innervating sweat glands as we get older. In addition, chronic conditions such as diabetes mellitus and thyroid disease can result in excessive sweating if not properly treated; patients should consult their doctor for appropriate treatment recommendations before attempting home remedies like over-the-counter antiperspirants designed to decrease excess moisture on the skin surface (see “Treating Hyperhidrosis”).

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