Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Effects of Hyperhidrosis and Living with Sweat

Hyperhidrosis is a condition where you sweat a lot more than what would be considered normal. It is a condition that effects a small percentage of the population in varying degrees and on different parts of the body. Some of the most common places people have it is on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and the underarms. It can also effect pretty much any area of the body such as the scalp, face and torso. To someone who does not have this condition, it may not seem like a big deal, but to those who have it, it can be incredibly difficult to deal with and can have a huge negative effect on the quality of life.

I can remember becoming aware that I had sweaty hands around age 12 or 13. I remember sitting in class with my hands on the table and there would be sweat marks left on the surface from the sweat. In music class, I remember being stressed out about playing the piano because my hands would sweat on the keys. When school dances came around, those were the worst as you might imagine not wanting to hold anyone's hand because of course they were sweaty and it would be very uncomfortable.

In high school it became more noticeable. My hands would sweat a lot in class which was very uncomfortable. I began to sweat more from other areas such as arm pits and feet. I managed to make it through high school and went on to college. It seemed to get worse in college. I can remember sitting in class trying to continuously dry my hands on my pants so as not to get the papers wet on the desk.

One day it got so bad I actually had a panic attack and had to excuse myself in the middle of class. It was so uncomfortable and embarrassing. I did not even return to class until the class was over that day. This condition of course had a huge negative effect on my education and was one of the biggest reasons I decided to drop out of college.

I started to try out different treatment options to see if I could find a solution to the problem. I tried prescription antiperspirants, a variety of oral medications, and even purchased an iontophoresis machine which helps limit sweat by sending an electrical current to your hands while placed in water. Some of the treatments helped a bit, but nothing was an absolute cure. There are a few other treatment options such as botox and invasive surgery which I do not plan on doing because of the costs and side effects of these treatments which can often turn out to be worse than the original condition.

After college, I started working in food delivery which was pretty good for this condition because I spent a lot of time on the go and by myself so the sweat was not very noticeable. A couple years later I got a job at a school as an assistant teacher. This job was much more difficult to deal with because you are stuck in a classroom all day and you have to work closely with other teachers and students. It was incredibly stressful to do this while I was sweating a lot and trying to hide it and ignore the physical discomfort.

I had a couple other panic attacks while in class working with students. To describe it, my heart would start beating so hard and fast and I would start sweating even more and I could not focus on anything except how uncomfortable and stressed out I felt. Both times I had to excuse myself and go to the bathroom to calm down. I also remember having a panic attack like this at one of the meetings where I was sweating a lot and felt like I was stuck there and could not get out.

After struggling with the school job for about 7 years I managed to start finding jobs working from home. This was better because at least if I was sweating at home it would not be a big deal because there would be no one to notice it. Currently I work from home which is nice, but hyperhidrosis still has a huge effect on my life.

My social life has been influenced the most because of hyperhidrosis. Any kind of social interaction is stressful for me because of this condition. Whenever you are with people or meeting new people it is expected that you shake hands. This is one of the things people with palmar hyperhidrosis dread the most. Even things like going to a restaurant or a movie are very uncomfortable if you are sweating a lot. Because of this I tend to avoid social interactions as much as possible. As a result, the amount of friends and relationships I have had has been very limited.

Physically it makes things more difficult. For example if you are trying to hold something or open something it can be very difficult if your hands are sweating. Many of my shirts get ruined by stains from continuously drying my hands on them over time. I have to clean things like the computer keyboard and mouse daily because with sweaty hands, it leaves a residue on these things just from normal use.

Clothing choices are completely determined by this condition. I always wear an under shirt to absorb sweat. I almost always wear pattern materials on the outside because they hide sweat a lot better than solid colors. I often wear extra layers to help absorb sweat even though it makes it more hot. Footwear has to be breathable and comfortable.

It can be hard to describe how it really feels to have this condition. To get an idea of what it is like to have hyperhidrosis, try the following:

Go to a sink and lightly cover the palms of your hands with water. Shake them off so they are not dripping anymore, but still wet. Now imagine going though your entire day like this not being able to ever get them dry. Even if you dry them with a towel or on your clothes, 30 seconds later they will be wet again. Then think about trying to shake people's hands or try to do some kind of work while your hands are wet like this. This will give you an idea of how it feels to have hyperhidrosis. And that is just on the hands. Most people have it in multiple areas and even in more noticeable areas like the face which can be very embarrassing in social situations.

As you can see hyperhidrosis has had a huge effect on my life as well as others who have this same condition. To this day I have not told many people about this but instead have tried to hide it all this time due to embarrassment. I hope this article raises a little awareness about hyperhidrosis. As of right now there is still not a good solution to this problem. Hopefully one day there will be a solid cure for this condition which has been so devastating to the lives of those who have to live with it.

5 comments:

  1. I'm got the issue too. So sad.

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  2. I just read this and I'm in shock. It's INSANE the fact that I just found my own life written by another person.
    I understand everything you have lived, because I have the same condition as you.
    You will never imagine how many thing I have wanted to do but I didn't do beacuse my condition.
    I really want to have the surgery but I don't have money enough and in my country is really expensive.
    Saddly his condition won't never let me be happy.

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    1. Connected IsolationDecember 5, 2016 at 6:14 PM

      Thank you for your reply! It's nice to know there are others out there who can relate to this condition. It is a shame how it has a negative effect on the quality of life, but we have to make the most of it. There are many other worse conditions out there so I suppose everyone has their own struggles.

      Make sure to do research if you are considering the surgery because some have reported it makes the condition worse in other areas. I hope you are able to be happy despite this condition!

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  3. hey there - had to reply because experienced everything you and others described - then one day I decided just to tell everyone I could about it - "I got your paper wet because..." I'm shivering yet sweating because, I just put on this shirt but soaked through because... and you know what - most of it went away. Still deal with it and have found some triggers such as socks, certain fabrics, etc but so much better to deal with the initial embarrassment because I was shocked how little judgement and how much acceptance I received from others and I was even more shocked when it started going away. Hope something similar happens to you

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    1. Connected IsolationMarch 6, 2017 at 8:21 AM

      Thank you for sharing your experience! I think you are right that telling people may help the stress of trying to hide it. That is great to hear that people were accepting an non-judgemental about it. Thank you for for support!

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