Meet Leann. She’s 25 years old and from Ontario, Canada. Here is her sweaty story.
On what areas of your body do you experience hyperhidrosis?
I use to suffer from hyperhidrosis under my armpits, hands and feet before I received ETS surgery. I now suffer on my back, stomach, feet and underarms.
How did you discover that your excessive sweating is a recognized medical condition?
I didn’t find out until I was in approximately grade 7 as it is not commonly known where I live. I went to Winnipeg to see a doctor regarding my condition and he diagnosed me with hyperhidrosis. Throughout high school my mom did an excessive amount of research to educate herself on this condition. I had thought growing up that it was something normal and everyone was like that, until I got older and realized it was just me.
How does your hyperhidrosis impair your daily life?
When my hands and feet used to sweat, in the summer I was always in socks and shoes, never sandals, even on the hottest days. I found it a struggle to drive with mitts on; my hands were so hot and sweaty, but I felt unsafe with no mitts on the steering wheel, which was always soaked.
Now with having my back sweating, I need to plan out my day from where I am going to what I should be wearing. If I know I am going to be somewhere hot and I can’t control my sweating, I will pack spare clothes as a backup in case I sweat through my shirt. I find this a struggle as I spend more time stressing about whether people will notice my shirt is wet than enjoying myself wherever I may be.
Do you avoid certain things because of your sweating?
Yes! The biggest thing I avoid is going outside when it is hot. I know that I will begin to start sweating the moment the door opens, so if I don’t have to go out I will stay in.
When my hands used to sweat, I would avoid touching anyone/anything or shaking hands in case my hands would be sweaty. I didn’t want to be judged or become embarrassed. In university I had someone ask me if I was a germaphobe because I refused to shake his hand; that was my excuse from then on out.
What treatments for hyperhidrosis, if any, have you tried?
I have tried a few different treatments for hyperhidrosis since being older and getting more information. In elementary school, I tried Drysol under my armpits to help with my underarm sweat. That was a game changer for me. I used to wear sweatshirts all the time to cover the sweat stains on my shirt, but after Drysol I could wear whatever I wanted.
In grade 8, I got Botox put in my hands. That was a painful experience, so I never did it again. That only lasted me a couple months, and it didn’t completely dry my hands.
In 2013, I got the sympathectomy surgery which was done in Toronto. Going into the surgery I knew there would be a risk of compensatory sweating, but I thought what would be worse than having sweaty hands?
After my surgery, I started sweating on my back and am still sweating there today.
In 2014, I talked to my surgeon in Toronto and told him I wanted the surgery reversed as I was having a hard time accepting my back; at least my hands I could hide. Instead of reversing the surgery, he prescribed oxybutynin. What started off with one pill twice a day is now at three pills twice a day with unpleasant side effects.
I am currently in the process of trying to switch from the oxybutynin to glycopyrrolate to see if it will be more successful for me.
Is anything working for you to help you cope with your hyperhidrosis?
Other than medication, I don’t do much coping. I have an amazing support system who are all understanding and accepting of me and my condition. Having the support system, I feel comfortable while I am around them as I know they will not judge.
What’s the worst thing about your hyperhidrosis?
The worst part of hyperhidrosis is not having control over when it starts or when it stops. It is very frustrating knowing that at any moment in time I can start sweating. It doesn’t matter if I am at home by myself or in a crowd of people, there’s no way to control it.
What do you think is the biggest misconception when it comes to hyperhidrosis?
One of the biggest misconceptions I believe is that treatment is looked at cosmetically. When we first tried getting my parents’ insurance benefits to cover my surgery, they told us they couldn’t help due to it being a cosmetic surgery. I feel that if people were properly educated, it would be looked at more seriously.
What would you like to see in the future when it comes to treatments for hyperhidrosis?
I would hopefully like to see a cure for hyperhidrosis in the future. I feel like more sufferers are speaking out, which I hope will cause more research which will eventually find a cure.
If you could tell the world only one thing about hyperhidrosis, what would it be?
Don’t judge or treat people different because they sweat.
The world needs to be more accepting of this condition as it is something people cannot control. I know for me I struggle enough by myself over hyperhidrosis that I do not need others’ negative comments.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about your sweaty story?
The three photos that I submitted are of my biggest support systems – my family, my boyfriend and my dog. These are the ones I can be myself around and know they won’t judge me.
Thank you, Leann, for having the courage to speak up and use your voice!
Do you have a sweaty story?
I’m opening up my blog to the larger hyperhidrosis community. If you’d like to be featured, please fill out the form on my Contact Me page. In the subject line, enter Guest Post. Not a writer? No worries! I can edit your story, send you questions to answer to create one, or you can record a video. I’m looking for stories that are at least a few paragraphs long (or a few minutes long if you’d like to do a video) versus just a sentence or two.