Excessive sweating is disruptive condition
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I got hit with hyperhidrosis about two years ago. I go to the doctor every six months and, in my opinion, it gets worse with every visit. Please let me hear from you. — A.F.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My son suffers from hyperhidrosis. It affects not only his hands and feet, but his buttocks too. We have tried Drysol and Robinul. How can we try the Drionic device? — K.W.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am experiencing excessive sweating. My doctor can’t find anything wrong with me. I was given medicine, and it stopped somewhat, but now it’s back again. What do you suggest? — R.G.
ANSWER: Hyperhidrosis – excessive sweating — is a disruptive condition that severely limits people’s lives. It affects between 3 million and 9 million Americans. It comes about from overactivity of the part of the nervous system that regulates sweat production. In a small number of people, hyperhidrosis is a manifestation of another illness. like cancer, TB or nerve malfunction, but it is not commonly the sole sign of those illnesses. The doctor will look for other indications of such illnesses.
Excessive sweating of the soles, palms and underarms can often be controlled with antiperspirants (not deodorants) containing aluminum chloride. Certain Dri is one product. Many people need a stronger concentration, available through prescription. Drysol is an example. It must be applied correctly. It is left on the skin for six to eight hours and then washed off. While it’s on, plastic gloves should be worn on the hands, socks on the feet and a T-shirt for the underarms. Nightly applications are applied until results are seen. Then applications can be reduced to once or twice a week.
Robinul, Robinul Forte and clonidine are oral medicines that have helped some stay dry.
Botox injections are another approach. I understand palm injections are somewhat painful.
Iontophoresis plugs sweat glands by low-voltage electric current that runs through a small water bath or saturated pads. You can contact the two companies that make these devices for cost details and for insurance questions. The General Med Company (maker of the Drionic device, 800-432-5362) and the R.A. Fischer Company (800-525-3467) are both located in California.
Neurosurgeons can cut the nerves involved in overproduction of sweat though a technique called endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy, a procedure done through a small incision.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: After reading the letter from the carpenter who might have carpal tunnel syndrome, I felt you might like to enlighten readers about another, lesser-known syndrome, deQuervain’s syndrome. — L.L.
ANSWER: DeQuervain’s syndrome is inflammation of thumb tendons due to overuse. People hurt on the thumb side of the wrist. A simple test to diagnose deQuervain’s is to fold the thumb onto the palm and then wrap the fingers over it. The next step is bending the hand to the little finger side. Pain on this maneuver indicates deQuervain’s.
Rest is its most important treatment. A splint helps achieve rest. Occupational therapists can fashion such a splint. Anti-inflammatory medicines and a shot of cortisone also can resolve symptoms quickly.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I would like to add a personal piece of information to what you wrote about migraine headaches. For years I was plagued by them, so I started an “elimination” diet. I ate just one item for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was bored, but I felt wonderful. I slowly added one new item at a time and waited seven days. When I added a chocolate bar, I had a massive headache shortly after. No more chocolate. That solved everything. — M.G.
ANSWER: You’re an enterprising, scientific, clever woman. An elimination diet is often used to discover food allergies. You made it work for migraine. I am positive readers will appreciate your proof of a possible migraine trigger.
Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.


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