I posted this information quite awhile ago on another thread, but I wasn't sure how to link to it, so I just posted it again. Several people have PMed me saying how helpful this info is. In my opinion the ETS surgery is very dangerous! Please think long and hard before considering such a drastic procedure. More info on that below:
Well I can certainly give both of you some information. I have generalized hyperhydrosis, which means that I sweat excessively on my palms, feet, and underarms. I can also experience some sweating on my thighs and stomach. However, it is the palmar sweating that is most distressing. Others who don't have this condition can have no idea of the embarrassment and emotional distress that I have gone through in my life.
Hyperhydrosis is a benign dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. The cause is truly unknown, but there is believed to be a genetic link. The excessive release of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, is what triggers the sweating. This sweating can occur at any time, even when relaxing, but I find that it also occurs in any situation in which one would normally be nervous or anxious.
I am 22 years old and I developed this condition when I was about 12. Some people with hyperhydrosis can remember having it even in early childhood, but most develop it around the time of puberty. For the first few years, I was brushed off by physicians and family members and told that it was "just hormones" and I would grow out of it. I knew that something was not normal about the amount of dripping sweat that I had to deal with everyday and I took it upon myself to do some research. What I came up with was hyperhydrosis and a dermatologist was finally able to confirm this.
Over the years, I have tried just about every form of treatment that exists for hyperhydrosis. Bottom line is, there is no cure for hyperhydrosis and the treatments have not been very effective for me. That is not meant to discourage either of you or anyone else suffering from this conditon, because I have very severe hyperhydrosis and I do know that there are people that are satisfied with various treatments.
I started out with a topical agent called Drysol. It is a solution of aluminium chloride 20% that is meant to block the sweat ducts. It is to be applied to the palms, underarms, or feet during the night and washed off in the morning. I still use Drysol although it is not very effective. It does help somewhat though and I would be a mess without it. There is also a form of treatment known as ionphoresis. This used to be available only in dermatologists' offices but there are now machines that you can buy. The web site for the most popular brand is http://www.drionic.com
. This requires a lot of time and it is somewhat painful and uncomfortable. After about a month of use, parts of my hands were completely dry, but the machine cannot reach all parts for some reason. I'll let you read more about that or you can pm me with any questions. The machine works by sending a small current to block the sweat ducts. It is not permanent though and you must continue to use it. Another treatment option is anticholinergics. I have tried a variety and I find that Ditropan XL is among the best. A common side effect of these meds is decreased sweating and with hyperhydrosis this is what you want! Unfortunately, the effectiveness tends to decrease after about a month of continued use. I try to use these a few days before an important event. Along with the Drysol, this is currently the most effective combination for myself. One of the latest treatments is the use of Botox injections for hyperhydrosis. The FDA has recently approved Botox to be used for underarm hyperhydrosis. There are dermatologists who will do it for the hands though. However, I must caution you on this. If this is something you want to look into, make sure the doc is experienced or has treated someone before. When I tried Botox, I was just desperate to find a doc to perform the treatments. I am in Ohio and there just really aren't any. Most of the dermatologist who do Botox for the hands are out in California. A lot of celebrities have these treatments to prevent any sweating during big events. Anyway, I finally found someone willing to do it. Basically, I got ripped off. Botox is really expensive, especially when you're talking about injecting hundreds of units into the hands. But I was willing to do just about anything to rid myself of this condition. To make a long story short, the doctor had no idea what he was doing, and therefore the Botox was not effective. However, I have heard great things about this really working if it is done correctly. You must get injected at least every six months though. The last treatment I would like to mention is ETS or endoscoptic thoracic sympathectomy. This is a surgery that many thoracic surgeons claim will "cure" hyperhydrosis. Please, please, please think very hard before agreeing to such a procedure. The surgery consists of cutting or clamping the nerves that control sweating to the hands or upper body. I have heard many nightmare stories about these surgeries and I cannot believe that they are actually still occuring. The same nerves that are responsible for the sweating also contribute to the control of many important functions, for example heart rate. There is evidence that indicates people who have had ETS have altered sympathetic activity in the heart. There are many other side effects (PM me to discuss more) and the surgery basically moves the area of sweating from the hands or underarms to other parts of the body.
So, hyperhydrosis cannot be cured. I've had a very difficult time accepting this condition. I have struggled with social anxiety and depression on and off. Hyperhydrosis almost prevented me from taking the path to become a nurse, but I soon realized that patients who need me the most don't really care how wet and drenched my hands are. I am learning to live with it and life is much better now that I've begun to accept it. Nursing makes me appreciate the fact that I even have hands or the ability to feel and realize that my hands are wet. Other people who don't have this condition usually can't understand the psychological impact that it can have on a person. There is a lot of information about hyperhydrosis on the internet, but be very careful where you get your information from. There is also a lot of people who have realized that they can make a lot of money off those with complexes about sweating. There are some online support groups also. Please feel free to e-mail me with any other questions or just to chat! Sorry this post is so long, I just felt that I should share my knowledge!