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How Is Excessive Sweating Diagnosed?

It's important to keep in mind that most people who sweat heavily are normal, and not sick. If you are worried, and decide to see a doctor, most specialists will take a careful medical history, Glaser says.

Among the questions you can expect:

  • Do you sweat excessively from certain small areas of your body or all over?
  • When do you notice yourself sweating? Can you describe the situation?
  • What medications are you taking regularly?
  • Have you recently started taking new medications?
  • Have you had any surgeries recently?
  • Are you going through menopause?
  • Do you have family members who complain of excessive sweating?

If the doctor determines that your sweating is "idiopathic," and has no known cause, you can still treat the problem if you wish. Treatments range from simple home remedies such as showering more frequently to medications or surgery such as sweat gland removal.

It's important to see a doctor, Glaser says. So many of her patients, she says, have been told even by health care professionals: "It's no big deal."

But Glaser sees the impact excessive sweating can have on her patient's lives. "I have teenagers who will not raise their hands in class," she says, fearing their underarm area will be excessively and embarrassingly wet. "I have kids who have never gone on a date."

Quality of life is affected in older patients too. "It can affect business relationships," Schweiger says. "People are embarrassed to shake hands."

So don't sweat about the problem. Instead, talk to an expert. Remember, sweating is a good thing. But too much of a good thing can become a big problem.

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