Thursday, July 02, 2015

Radio Show About ETS for Blushing

"This American Life," the amazing radio show produced by WBEZ in Chicago, recently aired a segment about one woman's decision whether to get endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) surgery for excessive blushing. The surgery is also used as a last-resort treatment for hyperhidrosis, so I was thrilled that "This American Life" producer Sean Cole provided an in-depth look at its pros and cons in the show's episode #558, Game Face.  (To listen to the segment about ETS, scroll down to Act 4, "Frankly Miss Scarlet.")

ETS surgery, according the the International Hyperhidrosis Society, "frequently causes serious, irreversible compensatory sweating (excessive sweating on large areas of the body or all over) as well as other dibilitating effects such as extreme hypotension, arrhythmia, and heat intolerance." Thus, the surgery is not recommended by most physicians.

Elna Baker, an actor and professional storyteller, considered getting ETS surgery after a failed audition for a TV show. Network executives, noticing her red face and neck, said she looked too nervous on camera. She ultimately decided against getting the surgery. Her particular type of slower-onset excessive blushing could not be addressed by ETS because it is caused by her adrenal glands, not her sympathetic nerve.

Interestingly, it turns out that what helped Ms. Baker the most was simply telling people about her blushing. When she stopped trying to hide the blushing, she blushed less frequently. I wonder if this would help with hyperhidrosis. Sometimes my palms and feet sweat when I'm home and not at all anxious. But sometimes, when I've told friends about my condition, the sweating decreases.

Has anyone else experienced decreased sweating after telling others about their hyperhidrosis? Please share your experiences in the comments section.


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