Hyperhidrosis and sympathetic skin response in chronic alcoholic patients

Clin Auton Res. 1999 Feb;9(1):17-22. doi: 10.1007/BF02280692.


Palmoplantar hyperhidrosis is frequently observed in patients with a clinical history of chronic abnormal alcoholic intake. It can be related to peripheral or central mechanisms such as abnormal spontaneous activity in peripheral damaged fibres; receptor hypersensitivity; compensatory incremented activity in segmentary anhidrosis; or impairment of central sweat control. With the aim of quantifying this phenomenon and of identifying its possible origin, sympathetic skin response (SSR) analysis was performed in 20 chronic alcoholic patients with clinical diffuse acral hyperhidrosis, compared with 30 normal subjects and 2 patients affected by primary palmoplantar hyperhidrosis (PPH). SSRs were recorded by disc electrodes place on the hands and feet, simultaneously. At the hand level two recording sites were selected: palm-dorsum proximally and ventral-dorsal tip of the third finger distally. Attention was paid to the number of SSR after a single endogenous or exogenous stimulus. The alcoholic patients were divided into two groups, with and without mild polyneuropathy. Both patient groups showed synchronous SSR at recording sites, with the same pattern and the normal delay between upper and lower arms. In the control group one response was generally related to a single stimulus; if more responses were elicited an evident adaptation was shown; in the two groups of patients an increase of the waves was observed in all the recording sites without any adaptation. The SSR profile described in alcoholic patients was observed also in PPH. The pattern of SSR waves in alcoholic patients seems to suggest a possible central origin of this type of hyperhidrosis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / physiopathology*
  • Electroshock
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hyperhidrosis / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology
  • Skin / innervation*
  • Skin / physiopathology*
  • Sweating / physiology
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiopathology*