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Anhidrosis, sometimes referred to as hypohidrosis, sudomotor dysfunction or sweating dysfunction, is an abnormal lack of sweat in response to heat - the person's body is unable to sweat normally.
Anhidrosis is the complete absence of sweating, while hypohidrosis is sweating less than normal.
If the human body cannot sweat properly it cannot cool itself, which is potentially harmful. Sweating allows heat to be released from the body.
If the lack of sweating affects a small area of the body, it is not usually dangerous. However, overall anhidrosis or hypohidrosis can result in overheating and eventually heatstroke, a potentially life-threatening condition.
According to the National Institute's of Health, people with anhidrosis may not know they have the condition until a significant amount of heat or exertion fails to induce proper sweating.
A symptom is something the patient feels and describes to others, such as tiredness or pain. A sign, on the other hand, can be detected by others (as well as the patient), such as a rash or swelling.
The most common signs and symptoms associated with anhidrosis are:
Anhidrosis may affect:
Patients who are affected in just one or some parts of the body will usually find that the unaffected parts sweat more than normal in an attempt to compensate. So, the result may be one part of the body remains completely dry while another is soaking wet.
If most of the body is affected, physical exertion or hot temperatures may lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
Anhidrosis occurs when the body's sweat glands do not work properly or at all.
This can occur as a result of:
A number of medical conditions, syndromes and illnesses are characterized by nerve damage, which can affect how the sweat glands work:
Dr William P. Cheshire Jr. and Robert D. Fealey, wrote in the journal Drug Safety that the following medications may induce hypohidrosis:
Dehydration occurs when the body sheds more fluids than it takes in. Approximately 75% of the human body is made up of water found inside cells, within blood vessels and between cells.
Dehydration is when the body loses too much water. One of the symptoms of severe dehydration is anhidrosis.
Dehydration may be the result of diarrhea, vomiting, profuse sweating, frequent urination, skin burns, being at high altitude, or endurance sports (marathons).
People with some chronic diseases have a higher risk of dehydration, examples of such diseases include adrenal gland disorders, cystic fibrosis, kidney disease and diabetes.
In most cases, dehydration can be reversed by taking in fluids. In severe cases, however, medical intervention may be necessary.
Drinking too much alcohol during one session (binge drinking), without consuming enough water, can lead to dehydration.
A good doctor will probably suspect anhidrosis after examining and interviewing the patient.
In an emergency situation, the health care team will perform measures to cool the patient and administer fluids to stabilize him or her.
In order to confirm the diagnosis and/or rule out possible conditions or illnesses, some tests may be recommended.
If the cause of the anhidrosis is known, its underlying disease or condition needs to be treated.Patients with anhidrosis in only a small part of their body might not require any treatment.
Researchers at the Tokyo Metropolitan Komagome Hospital reported in The Journal of Dermatology on a 34-year-old male patient with acquired idiopathic hypohidrosis who was successfully treated with prednisolone, a corticosteroid drug. Idiopathic refers to a disease or condition for which the cause is unknown.
A team at Ajou University College of Medicine, South Korea, reported in The Korean Journal of Pain on a patient with cholinergic urticaria (hives) with acquired generalized hypohidrosis who improved after repeated bilateral stellate ganglion block (injecting local anesthetic into the sympathetic nerve tissue in the neck).
If the cause is unknown treatment options are limited. Patients should avoid activities and environments that raise their core body temperature. Exercise should be done in a cool place, and preferably under supervision.
People who do not sweat enough (or not at all) when doing exercise or in hot environments have a serious risk of developing heat stroke.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency - it can cause brain and internal organ damage, and even death. If you suspect somebody has heatstroke get medical help immediately - call 911 and provide first aid until the paramedics arrive.
Take the person to a cool environment immediately, preferably one with air-conditioning. If that is not possible find a shady area. Apply ice packs to the their neck, back, armpits and groin.
Place the patient in a cold shower or bath. Adding ice to the bath may help.
Patients recovering from heat stroke are more sensitive to warm/hot environments and should avoid them for at least one week.
Written by Christian Nordqvist
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without the permission of Medical News Today.
National Institute's of Health --- Brain --- Shinshu University Hospital --- Movement Disorders --- National Library of Medicine --- Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology --- Handbook of Clinical Neurology --- Journal of the Indian Academy of Clinical Medicine --- Drug Safety --- The Cleveland Clinic --- The Journal of Dermatology --- The Korean Journal of Pain.
Visit our Neurology / Neuroscience category page for the latest news on this subject.
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Nordqvist, Christian. "What is anhidrosis? What hypohidrosis?." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 23 Sep. 2013. Web.
10 Mar. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266427>
Nordqvist, C. (2013, September 23). "What is anhidrosis? What hypohidrosis?." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
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