Anhidrosis is the inability to sweat normally. When you don’t sweat (perspire), your body can’t cool itself, which can lead to overheating and sometimes to heatstroke — a potentially fatal condition.
Anhidrosis — sometimes called hypohidrosis — can be difficult to diagnose. Mild anhidrosis often goes unrecognized. Dozens of factors can cause the condition, including skin trauma and certain diseases and medications. You can inherit anhidrosis or develop it later in life.
Signs and symptoms of anhidrosis include:
- Little or no perspiration
- Muscle cramps or weakness
- Feeling hot
A lack of perspiration can occur:
- Over most of your body (generalized)
- In a single area
- In scattered patches
Areas that can sweat may try to produce more perspiration, so it’s possible to sweat profusely on one part of your body and very little or not at all on another. Anhidrosis that affects a large portion of your body prevents proper cooling, so vigorous exercise, hard physical work and hot weather can cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke.
Anhidrosis can develop on its own or as one of several signs and symptoms of another condition, such as diabetes or skin injury.
When to see a doctor
If you barely sweat, even when it’s hot or you’re working or exercising strenuously, talk to your doctor. Talk to your doctor if you notice you’re sweating less than usual.
Anhidrosis occurs when your sweat glands don’t function properly, either as a result of a condition you’re born with (congenital condition) or one that affects your nerves or skin. Dehydration also can cause anhidrosi. Sometimes the cause of anhidrosis can’t be found.
Causes of anhidrosis include:
- Conditions you’re born with, such as certain congenital dysplasias that affect the development of sweat glands
- Inherited conditions that affect your metabolic system, such as Fabry’s disease
- Connective tissue diseases, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, which causes dry eyes and mouth
- Skin damage, such as from burns or radiation therapy, or diseases that clog your pores (poral occlusion), such as psoriasis
- Conditions that cause nerve damage (neuropathy), such as diabetes, alcoholism and Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Certain drugs, such as morphine and botulinum toxin type A, and those used to treat psychosis
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