The medical term for excessive sweating is hyperhidrosis. Broadly speaking, the causes will either be “no cause” (primary hyperhidrosis) or a specific cause (secondary hyperhidrosis). The primary type usually starts in childhood or adolescence and is quite easy to diagnose in someone whose had it for a few years … this can be really embarrassing for patients but there are effective treatments (iontophoresis works well for hands or feet for example).
The secondary type might start in the years leading up to the menopause. When the periods are still regular, though, it could be another cause and it might then be worth doing a blood test to check the hormone levels (the blood test is not perfect but does give a good idea, particularly FSH on day 3). On the other hand, not all doctors would arrange blood tests - for example, if the sweats are described as a sudden onset of heat in the face and upper chest that becomes more general then women in their late 40's or early 50's (or who have come off HRT) can be fairly sure it is menopausal.
Now the other common cause is medication (SSRI's for depression, anti inflammatories), and sometimes an overactive thyroid can present with sweats.
Then there are the rare causes - they really are rare compared to the previous list, but any concerns can be addressed by blood tests. Such rare causes include infections, lymphoma and even endocrinological conditions such as phaeochromocytoma and carcinoid syndrome - though having said that, these conditions do need to be considered. But remember, around 1 in 30 people have these symptoms and I have tested hundreds of patients for these conditions but have not come across one case. Few GP's will ever see a case of carcinoid syndrome in their working life.
Lymphoma is one most people think of but it is relatively uncommon and more often gives other symptoms; a GP can rule this out with a blood test and examination.
To conclude, excessive sweating is normally primary hyperhidrosis, or caused by hormonal changes leading up to the menopause, medications, and occasionally an overactive thyroid; lymphoma is very uncommon and the other causes even more so. There are other causes not mentioned but these are normally obvious (such as someone with known Parkinson's disease or diabetic neuropathy)
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