In humans, sweating is primarily meant for thermoregulation. However, some people experience excessive sweating.
Excessive sweating can happen due to a wide variety of reasons. Sweating is considered excessive when it goes beyond fulfilling its purpose of physiological thermoregulation.
This condition is known as hyperhidrosis and may also hinder one’s daily activities.
Primary Hyperhidrosis:Whenever excessive sweating occurs without any known medical cause it is called primary hyperhidrosis.It is also known as idiopathic primary hyperhidrosis. Idiopathic means a condition for which the cause is unknown.
Primary hyperhidrosis is usually linked to genetic or hereditary causes.In primary hyperhidrosis, the nerves that trigger the sweat glands become overly active.
This leads to excessive sweating even when thermoregulation isn’t required.Excessive sweating in this type of hyperhidrosis is localized to body parts like palms, soles of feet, and underarms in primary hyperhidrosis.This kind of excessive sweating is also called focal hyperhidrosis.
Secondary Hyperhidrosis:Whenever excessive sweating is caused by an underlying health condition, it is called secondary hyperhidrosis. It is also called diaphoresis when associated with serious health conditions.
Secondary hyperhidrosis can affect all age groups.Excessive sweating at night or nocturnal hyperhidrosis is also a common type of secondary hyperhidrosis.
Here are some of the possible causes of secondary hyperhidrosis.
One should always consult their physician for a complete clinical examination before starting any kind of treatment for excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis.
A doctor can rule out underlying conditions if any. A doctor usually analyses patterns, localization, frequency, and timings of the sweating.
On the basis of the patient’s history, clinical examinations, and investigations if any, the doctor can make a possible diagnosis. After the diagnosis, he or she can advise an appropriate treatment or management plan for excessive sweating.
While a wide variety of options exist for managing excessive sweating, treating the underlying health condition in the case of secondary hyperhidrosis is also necessary.Here are some of the options available in western medicine for managing excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis.
Topical agents: These include antiperspirants, anticholinergic agents, and formaldehyde lotions.Antiperspirants are available in sprays, lotions, and roll-ons.
Formaldehyde lotions and topical anticholinergic agents reduce sweating by occluding the pores of the skin. These, however, are short-acting.Formaldehyde lotions also have side-effects thus limiting their use.
Iontophoresis: This medical procedure uses low-level electrical impulses to temporarily disable the sweat glands under the skin. It is a painless procedure that takes around 20-30 minutes to perform.
Botox injections (Botulinum toxin): Botox injections can be used for blocking the nerves that trigger the sweat glands.
The effects of Botox injections usually last for three to nine months. However, most people usually require multiple injections to see effective results.
Botox injections are an approved treatment for excessive underarm sweating or axillary hyperhidrosis.
Medications: Oral anticholinergic drugs are commonly used for managing excessive sweating. These drugs inhibit the transmission of parasympathetic nerve impulses that trigger the sweat glands.
In general, people using anticholinergics see improvements within a few weeks. Some of theanticholinergics used for treating hyperhidrosis are propantheline, methantheline, glycopyrrolate, and oxybutynin.
These medications, however, have side effects like dry mouth, constipation, and more. Hence they should be only used when prescribed by the physician.
Surgery: Surgery is also an option for treating excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis. Surgical procedures like laser sweat ablation, sweat gland suction, and retrodermal curettage are available.
A procedure calledETS (Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy) is also available. In ETS, the sweat-gland triggering nerves are surgically removed.
This procedure is usually recommended for severe cases where the patient does not respond to the usual treatments.
Learn more about Ayurveda and how it can help your health and wellbeing, check out the course below.
Sweating is calledswedain Ayurveda.Sweda vaha srotas are the minuscule channels that carry sweat from the sweat glands to the pores.In Ayurveda,sweda is considered amala(excreta) of themedo dhatu (fat tissue).
It is formed when fat is metabolized in the body.1Ayurvedic texts mentionswedaor sweat as a slightly saline fluid that is excreted from the skin. It is calledpasinain Hindi.
Sweda is one of the threesthula malas. Sthulameans fat andmalameans excreta.Sthula malaare the three main excretory products of the body namelypurisha(stool), mutra(urine), and sweda(sweat).2 They are formed during digestion.
Sweda is one of the three sthula malas
According to Ayurvedic texts, the main function ofswedaor sweating is to keep the skin pores moist and keep the skin soft.3Thus,sweda or sweating is also considered a normal and necessary bodily function in the Ayurvedic system of medicine.
In Ayurveda,amashya(stomach),sweda (sweat),rasa(plasma),lasika(lymph),rudhira(blood), and the area betweenpakwashya (large intestine) andamashya(stomach) are considered the chief sites ofPitta dosha.4
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Excessive sweating is considered abnormal in Ayurveda as well. It is calledsweda adhikyaorati swedain Ayurvedic texts. Here,sweda means sweat andadhikyaorati means excessive. Ayurveda associates excessive sweating with other symptoms like itching and foul body odor.2
Whilesweda adhikhyaor excessive sweating is not mentioned as an independent disease in Ayurveda, it has been mentioned in bits and parts at various places in different Ayurvedic texts.
Ayurveda lists a few conditions that can cause excessive sweating. Here are some of them.
Excessive sweating can be caused by the contamination ofsweda vaha srotas. Sweda vaha srotas are the channels responsible for carrying sweat to the pores.
Some of the possible causes of contamination include excessive physical exercise, prolonged exposure to heat or sunlight, unhealthy eating habits, or even experiencing strong emotions like anger or fear.
Excessive sweating is linked to the contamination of swedo vaha srotas
The contamination ofswedo vaha srotas leads to symptoms like excessive sweating, excessively moist skin, burning sensation, or no sweating.5
Ayurveda also mentionsmedo adhikya(excess of fat)as a cause of excessive sweating. In the classical Ayurvedic textCharak Samhita, excessive sweating is correlated with being overweight or obese.
The text mentions a wide variety of problems that occur whenmedo dhatu (fat tissue) increases and goes beyond the normal amounts for the body.
Excessive sweating orsweda adhikya has been mentioned as one of the main problems that come with being overweight or obese.6
Ayurveda also associates excessive sweating with an aggravated Pitta dosha. With sweat orswedabeing one of the chief sites of Pitta expression of the body, an aggravated Pitta naturally causes excessive sweating.
An aggravated Pitta naturally causes excessive sweating
In the 20th chapter of Charak Samhita,sutra sthana, there is a list of forty conditions which are callednanatmaja pitta roga,conditions associated with an aggravated Pitta)
Nanatmaja rogameans diseases caused by the vitiation of only one individual dosha.
Two symptoms namelyosha (heat) andati sweda (excessive sweat) have been mentioned undernanatmaja pitta roga.7
Other than the causes mentioned above, Ayurvedic texts also mention other less-common conditions wherein excessive sweating is a symptom.
The Ayurvedic system of medicine believes in curing the root cause of diseases. It does not suggest symptomatic treatment of conditions like western medicine.
This approach to medicine is callednidan parivarjanam.Nidanmeans root cause andparivarjanammeans avoidance.
Therefore, in Ayurveda, managing excessive sweating depends on its root cause. In the case of being overweight or obese, managing one’s weight is the preferred treatment route for managing excessive sweating as well.
If the excessive sweating is due to an aggravated Pitta dosha, then pacifying the aggravated Pitta also treats the excessive sweating.
Similarly, in excessive sweating caused by problems with thesweda vaha srotas,thesweda vaha srotas are treated to solve the associated excessive sweating.
Sweating Associated With Aggravated Pitta Dosha
The classical Ayurvedic textCharak Samhitamentions the following ways to pacify an aggravated Pitta Dosha.8
Sweating Associated With Excessive Weight
Charak Samhita’schapterAshto nindtiya adhyaya describes the following ways of losing weight associated with excessivemeda dhatu(fat tissue)9
Sweating Associated With Problems inSweda Vaha Srotas
The contamination of the body’ssweda vaha srotas and the resultant excessive sweating have the same treatment approach like that ofjwara roga.Jwara roga is correlated with fever.5
In the renowned Ayurvedic textDravyaguna Vijnana(Ayurvedic Herbology), an herb namedusheera (Vetiveria zizanioides) is mentioned.
This herb is helpful in managing excessive sweating and pacifies an aggravated Pitta dosha. Its paste is helpful in relieving excessive sweating, burning sensation, and foul body odor caused by excessive sweating.10
Coriander or cilantro is a very common herb which is extensively used for cooking. It has certain qualities that bring all the doshas into equilibrium.
A cold infusion of coriander is extremely helpful in excessive sweating. Here’s the recipe.
Diabetic people or people having high blood sugar level should avoid using sugar or honey for the preparation.
Follow these daily suggestions and remedies to prevent excessive sweating.
The remedies and measures for excessive sweating mentioned in this article are suggestions only. Please consult your general physician or qualified Ayurvedic practitioner before trying them.
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