Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, is caused by several physical, mental and psychological conditions. The most serious hyperhidrosis causes include cancer and heart disease, two life-threatening conditions that can result in death. There are also a number of nervous system and hormonal conditions that can make a person sweat uncontrollably, such as Parkinson's disease, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and menopause.
Cancers that affect the main hormone regions of the body — the breasts for women and the prostate glands for men — can make a person sweat uncontrollably. People with breast or prostate cancer are more likely to sweat, even if they live in cool conditions. It is important to note that although excessive sweating can be a sign a person has breast or prostate cancer, it is very rare that people who have hyperhidrosis actually have cancer. The most common hyperhidrosis causes usually include less serious psychological and nervous system conditions.
For example, anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder or other phobias that make a person extremely fearful, can cause him to sweat out of fear. When a person is exposed to a situation that causes him to feel very uncomfortable, it can trigger a response that causes his nervous system to go into overdrive, improving his response time, increasing his heart rate, and making him more alert. This is called a fight or flight response.
Unfortunately, the increased heart rate can make a person sweat uncontrollably, which can cause hyperhidrosis. People with untreated anxiety disorders may experience this response in many situations, sometimes several times a day. Although their bodies may be perfectly cool, their heart rates may be constantly in overdrive, which raises body temperature and causes excessive sweat.
Other common hyperhidrosis causes include menopause and Parkinson's disease — the first being a hormonal reaction and the latter being a central nervous system problem. Menopause, or the physical and hormonal changes a woman goes through after the cessation of her menstrual cycle, can trigger hot flashes, which can make her sweat. People with Parkinson's disease have a harder time controlling their sweat and saliva and are more likely to sweat profusely.
Other hyperhidrosis causes include heart disease, which can increase the heart rate and cause a person to sweat more. People with heart disease may begin to feel tired, weak and hot all the time, even though they haven't participated in any activities or been exposed to heat that would cause these reactions. Sometimes, people may feel their hearts jumping as they sweat as well.