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'Don't sweat it.' It's easier said than done for millions of Americans, Saint Louis U. study shows

ST. LOUIS - It's summertime, everybody sweats. But for people with hyperhidrosis-excessive or abnormal sweating-the perspiration never stops.

A new study by Saint Louis University researchers has found that approximately 7.8 million Americans are living with this condition, which sometimes results in anxiety, depression, isolation and a reduced quality of life.

The results are based on a survey of 150,000 households in the United States, making it the largest study of hyperhidrosis in this country.

"The fact that we had an incredibly large response rate to our survey (70%) tells us this is a not a mild nuisance experienced by a few people," said Dee Anna Glaser, M.D., an associate professor of dermatology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. "This is a big problem that interests people. Frankly, I was a little surprised at the high percentage of those affected."

Sweating is necessary to control body temperature during exercise or in warm or hot surroundings. It is regulated by the sympathetic nervous system. In people with hyperhidrosis, this system is revved-up, causing sweating at inappropriate times in specific areas of the body, such as the scalp, face, hands, armpits, feet or trunk. The condition strikes men and women equally.

Glaser and her colleagues presented their study results at the American Academy of Dermatology meeting in San Francisco. She said their investigation had a dual purpose-1) determine the prevalence of hyperhidrosis and 2) determine its impact on the daily activities of sufferers. The study found that approximately 90 percent of those with the disease said the sweating interfered with their life, whether it was at work, socially or romantically.

The study took a special look at individuals with axillary (armpit) hyperhidrosis. Results show that more than half (54 percent) of the estimated 4 million Americans with axillary hyperhidrosis report they feel less confident as a result of t
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Contact: Joe Muehlenkamp
muehlenk@slu.edu
314-977-8015
Saint Louis University
31-Jul-2003


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