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What Causes Hyperhidrosis?

Written by Kelly Crumrin
Updated on February 2, 2020

There are two types of hyperhidrosis. In primary focal hyperhidrosis, there is no underlying cause — the sweating itself is the condition. In secondary generalized hyperhidrosis, sweating is caused by another health condition or a medication.

Risk Factors for Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis

Age seems to be a factor for the onset of primary focal hyperhidrosis. In most people with primary focal hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating usually begins before age 25. In people with secondary hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating can begin at any age.

Studies indicate that between 30 percent and 65 percent of people with primary focal hyperhidrosis have another family member with excessive sweating. Since many people are too embarrassed to discuss sweating, even with a relative, many of those with hyperhidrosis may be unaware that the condition runs in their families and may be heritable. Research is ongoing to identify specific genes that may contribute to primary focal hyperhidrosis.

Which Health Conditions Can Cause Secondary Hyperhidrosis?

Excessive sweating can be a symptom of many health conditions. Conditions that can cause secondary hyperhidrosis include:

  • Diabetes
  • Endocarditis (Infection of the inner lining of the heart)
  • Gout
  • HIV infection
  • Hyperthyroid (Overactive thyroid)
  • Lymphoma or other types of cancer
  • Menopause
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Tuberculosis

Which Medications Can Cause Secondary Hyperhidrosis?

Many medications list excessive sweating as a potential side effect. Drugs that can cause secondary hyperhidrosis include:

  • Antidepressants of some classes
  • Aricept (donepezil)
  • Arimidex (anastrozole)
  • Aspirin
  • Beta blockers such as Lopressor (metoprolol)
  • Calcium channel blockers such as Cardizem (diltiazem)
  • Cyclosporine
  • Femara (letrozole)
  • Gleevec (imatinib)
  • Insulin
  • Migraine medications
  • Morphine
  • Niacin (vitamin B3)
  • Remicade (infliximab)
  • Tamoxifen
  • Theophylline
  • Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • Ultram (tramadol)
  • Wellbutrin (bupropion)

Condition Guide

Updated on February 2, 2020
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Kelly Crumrin is a senior editor at MyHealthTeam and leads the creation of content that educates and empowers people with chronic illnesses. Learn more about her here.

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