The Unsightly Side of Parkinson’s: Sweating
Last updated: November 2021
One of the most undesirable and socially stigmatizing symptoms that I experience from being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease is hyperhidrosis.
Hyperhidrosis is a posh fancy-shmancy medical term, which when loosely interpreted into layman's terms, means "sweating" (yuck!) Imagine big droplets of sweat pouring from your face during spring, summer, autumn, and even winter.
Everyone else around you is swathed in thick thermals, shivering and huddled around the fireplace. Whilst, you are in the opposite corner with a fan blasting on maximum power in your face. This form of sweating is not to be underestimated or misunderstood. It is relentless.
It is debilitating
This niggling, annoying facet of Parkinson’s disease is particularly exacerbated during heatwaves and in hotter climates. But its onset is random, and it can be persistent and debilitating in a myriad of ways. It can strike anytime, anywhere.
I am still unsure whether it is a symptom of Parkinson’s disease, a result of the anxiety that accompanies the diagnosis, or a side effect of the copious amounts of medication I rely on.
I have slowly begun to realize it is just a part of my body's inner workings. My body's inner thermostat is completely and utterly mangled.
After years of shoving copious amounts levodopa in my body’s furnace, I have broken it. My body now regularly overheats. It has lost the ability to regulate its own temperature.
It feels as if my body has a furnace in it and the Parkinson's medication is the coal that fuels the furnace. Which ultimately powers my limbs and enables me to operate in a pseudo-normal way.
Well, when the furnace is over-filled with coal (medication), it literally leads to a cataclysmic and very uncomfortable case of overheating.
Navigating social situations
Social situations are particularly tricky to navigate when you struggle with such a debilitating form of hyperhidrosis. Typically, when someone is sweating in a social gathering, it is deemed as a big social faux pas.
It can be commonly misconstrued as meaning a few things:
- They have carried out an act, which was illegal/ dodgy
- They are a weirdo. Period.
- They lack basic communication skills to cope with everyday social interactions. Or the bonus option ...
- They have a very, very, very faulty body thermostat, which needs immediate attention from a body-thermostat engineer person (Disclaimer: there is no such profession)
HINT: answers 1, 2, and 3 are red herrings, aka, wrong.
This poor sweaty betty is then immediately black-listed and ostracized from all social gatherings until the end of time.
Fear of judgment
When you are experiencing uncontrollable (mostly facial) perspiration during social outings and gatherings, it is very, very embarrassing. Sweating is seen as socially unacceptable.
I am sure that even the most caring, understanding and empathetic human beings may feel a twinge of pity or uncomfortableness at the paltry melting puddle (aka me!) that they are looking at.
This is a cold, hard truth. I may jest, but just marginally. There is no other way to sugarcoat this truth. It is plainly discernible from most people's non-verbal body language that they just have contempt or disgust towards you.
Lack of knowledge
This is understandable to an extent. Whilst a tremor is one of the most well-known symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Hyperhidrosis (or sweating) is one of the (not so) hidden symptoms.
It is unsightly for those viewing it from the outside but please have a modicum of empathy - it is 100 times more distressing for the person experiencing it.
Do you experience issues with spatial awareness?