Hyperhidrosis (Excessive Sweating) [transcript][audio]

Guest: Angela Ballard, RN, EMT

Presenter: Neal Howard

Guest Bio: Angela Ballard has been working with the International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHHS) since its inception in 2003. As a registered nurse and emergency medical technician, Angela brings a passion for high-quality, accessible healthcare and patient advocacy to every sentence she writes. As a professional writer, she understands the importance of clear, informative communications in all avenues of life. From SweatHelp.org and theSweatSolutions newsletter to brochures and medical journal articles, Angela’s writing is an important piece of the educational and empowerment mission of the International Hyperhidrosis Society to help provide the information people need to live fuller, richer lives.

In addition to her hyperhidrosis and other health and wellness-related writing, Angela plies her pen about outdoor life. Specifically, she enjoys writing about the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) and is co-author of an award-winning hiking adventure book called A Blistered Kind of Love (Mountaineers Books, Seattle, WA).

Segment overview: Angela Ballard, RN, EMT, with the International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHHS) discusses some truths and myths about hyperhidrosis and the effect this condition can have on a person’s life.


Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to the program. Thank you so much for tuning in today to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. As people go about their daily lives, there’s a common but hidden scourge, it’s excessive sweating. In fact, the national survey conducted by the International Hyperhidrosis Society, the scholars of sweat shows multiple millions suffer from extreme uncomfortable, embarrassing, debilitating and emotionally devastating sweating. Our guest is joining us today as a registered nurse who specializes in this condition, she’s Angela Ballard RN and EMT with the International Hyperhidrosis Society and she’s here to talk about some of the truths and myths about this condition. Welcome to the program Angela, how are you?

Angela Ballard: Good. Thank you for having me.

N: Hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating, I’ve never heard it called ‘Hyperhidrosis’. I’ve heard of excessive sweating, what is this condition and I thought that some people just sweat a lot and some don’t? What’s the difference between those of us that do this and those of us that don’t?

A: Well, hyperhidrosis as a medical condition, it’s excessive sweating beyond what may be considered normal or acceptable for exercising, or temperature control or just moving about your daily life. So we all expect to sweat when it’s hot and when we exercise and certainly, we have vary individual differences and how much we sweat in those circumstances. But people with hyperhidrosis may sweat 4 or 5 times what’s normal or expected based on how much they’re exercising, or the weather or stress they might be under. So someone might be just sitting at their desk at work and literally still dripping sweat or soaking through their shirts or soaking through multiple layers of shirts and it can affect people in different body areas such as the hands, the feet, the scalp or obviously, the underarms or it can be any combination of locations.

N: It has nothing to do with the more you exercise, the more you sweat. Is there a point at which you just you sweat it all you’re going to and there’s no more sweat?

A: Well certainly, there is the risk that someone could sweat so much that they become dehydrated or move into like more of a heat exhaustion type of situation. We don’t hear about that very often. I think that people with hyperhidrosis are pretty good at regulating their fluid intake to stay physiologically comfortable. But certainly, it’s a theoretical concern although I haven’t heard about that aspect of it.

N: So it’s not that you’re an athlete and you’re out of shape and you sweat more, is just that you’re an athlete, you’re in good shape, it’s just that you suffer from a hyperhidrosis?

A: Right. So this is a sweating that’s beyond what we need to maintain our temperature whether we’re exercising or in hot weather. So it’s almost as if the sweat glands are stuck in and on position rather than turning on and off based upon what our body needs to maintain that healthy body temperature.

N: Is it possible that say I sweat at a certain amount and then the person next to me sweats 3 times as much but their body temperature is maintained based on their physiological makeup and so is mine? What is it that causes this excessive sweating both beyond and above what is considered normal or what we need to regulate our individual body temperature?

A: We’re not really sure, yet there does seem to be a genetic link and hyperhidrosis appears to commonly run in families. But we’re not sure of the derivation of the condition. What we do know is that it causes people a lot of social anxiety, a lot of embarrassment and practical difficulties in life. Students may ruin their paperwork at school and get bad grades as a result. Computers can be damaged by the moisture, we’ve actually even heard of parents who can’t hold their children’s hands or their children’s hands slip out of their grasp as they walk across the street because their palms are so sweaty. So there’s a lot of really practical difficulties as well as the social stigma that comes with public sweating. People make assumptions about someone who’s sweating a lot that they’re out of shape, that they’re overweight, that they’re ill, or lying, or nervous or even doing drugs. And so that there’s not only the uncomfortableness of having excessive sweating and that physical feeling of that but then also feeling judged by it. So people with hyperhidrosis practically day to day run into a lot of obstacles in having good quality of life.

N: You mentioned your child’s hands slipping out of your hand as you go across the street due to excessive sweating. I was assuming that we were talking about the sweaty palms of the adult. Is this something that can affect kids as well?

A: Definitely. Sweating on the palms or the feet will often manifest before adolescence. So this can be a childhood problem and pediatricians or nurses who work with children, school nurses, teachers and coaches should be aware of this that a child who is sweating during sports or in class, needs treatment and should have that problem addressed because of the psychosocial ramifications, and teasing and bullying that could be potential at school for any child who feels different. And then for teenagers, the International Hyperhidrosis Society actually did a study and found that nearly 1 in 5 teenagers experiences excessive sweating. And this can be a problem in middle school and high school, these are vulnerable years when adolescents are figuring out who they are and to have a serious dermatological condition can really affect their self-esteem and self-concept. So it is common in young people and it usually does manifest in younger years but then it’s a chronic condition and can last a lifetime.

N: Is there anything that can be done? What is the treatment for this condition entail?

A: Fortunately, there are treatment options and there’s a number of different ones. I often requires some flexibility and working through finding what works best for you and your situation, there are antiperspirants, obviously the ones you can buy at your local pharmacy or supermarket but there’s also prescription antiperspirants that are stronger. And then there are some over-the-counter ones that are more niche products for certain dry, that’s a stronger antiperspirant that’s specially formulated for excessive sweating. And what many people don’t realize is that you can use antiperspirants on other body areas, you can try them on your hands or on your feet. Of course, you want to test it on a little patch of skin first especially if it’s a sensitive body area to make sure it doesn’t cause irritation or talked to a dermatologist or doctor about it, but antiperspirant can be used in different areas. There’s also something called ‘Iontophoresis’ which is good for sweating of the hands and feet and it’s a medical device you can use at home and it actually uses pans of water and a very slight electric current to stop your sweating and you use it at two or three times a week to start for about half an hour and then usually, you can get to a maintenance schedule of about once a week. There’s also ‘Botox injections’ which can be used on a variety of body areas and actually sort of stuns your sweat glands to become inactive for 6 month to a year depending upon your body area. And there is a medical device called ‘miraDry’ which stops sweating on your underarms and the doctor can perform that procedure for you and that is permanent. So you have lots of options and fortunately, there’s even more options in development. So you can check out our websites sweathelp.org and learn about clinical trials and new research that’s going on to give people even more option.

N: Sweathelp.org, is that we’d also find some information about the International Hyperhidrosis Society?

A: Yes, that’s our website and we have a blog that you can sign up for and we cover everything about sweat – treatment, what causes this condition, new research and events for patients who are looking for support.

N: Angela Ballard, thank you so much for coming in today and talking with us here on Health Professional Radio. It’s been a pleasure and I’m hoping that you’ll return in the future.

A: I would love to. Thanks for having me.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. Our guest today has been Angela Ballard, registered nurse and EMT with the International Hyperhidrosis Society and she’s been talking about some of the truth and myth about this condition and how it affects those that are living with it. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, listen in and download at SoundCloud and be sure and visit our affiliates page when you visit our platform at hpr.fm and healthprofessionalradio.com.au.

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