A 60-year-old man suffered seizures that led to him sweating so profusely he left puddles where he sat.
The man, who is unnamed in the bizarre medical case report, had been sweating heavily in strange episodes for three years.
Various doctors were unable to pinpoint the root cause of his problem – until one doctor observed the man during an episode.
He noticed that his responses became slowed, leading to a diagnosis of temporal lobe seizures in the brain.
The seizures were activating a pathway that leads to sweating, the doctors noted.
A 60-year-old man from Wisconsin suffered seizures that led to him sweating so profusely he left puddles where he sat, according to a case report
The man, from Wisconsin, had been having the episodes, which lasted for several minutes over a 13-hour period, every month.
This type of sweating is called ‘cyclical sweating’, which is different to excessive sweating because it occurs in a repeated pattern.
The man was otherwise healthy, with no other symptoms, and all tests that doctors ran on him returning with normal results.
Doctors and specialists at various hospitals initially though he had ‘hyperhidrosis’, the lead case report author Dr Mark Chelmowski told Live Science.
But no-one knew why his excessive sweating was occurring, said Dr Chelmowski, who treated the man at Advocate Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee.
Excessive sweating is commonly reported by patients with the causes being obesity, anxiety, hyperthyroidism, infection, cancer, and side effects of some medications.
But the man didn’t appear to fit and of these, and was questioned on his lifestyle and if he had recently travelled.
He and his partner decided to meticulously chronicle the episodes to find out themselves.
This was valuable information as the man was then able to visit Dr Chelmowski when he felt an episode was going to happen.
According to the report, the patient ‘felt it coming on; he lowered his head into his hands and had slowed verbal responses for approximately two minutes’.
The doctors described his sweating as ‘profuse’ and detailed a pool of sweat left on an examination table.
According to LiveScience, Dr Chelmowski said sweat was ‘pouring off him’, which accumulated where his elbows had rested.
Five minutes later, the man was back to normal.
The changes in the patient’s responsiveness over the episode ‘suggested a seizure,’ the report, published in journal Annals of Internal Medicine, said.
For further investigations, the man was scheduled for an EEG (electroencephalogram), a test that monitors the brain’s electrical activity.
As the doctor had predicted, the EEG showed that during the sweating episodes, the man was having seizures, or outbursts of electrical activity, in the temporal lobe of his brain which is responsible for processing sound and language.
Temporal lobe seizures are sometimes called focal seizures with impaired awareness, as people – like the man – can remain aware of what’s happening.
It can be come before an ‘aura’ or warning symptom, such as hallucinations of any of the five sense, vivid deja vu or recalled memories or emotions.
According to Dr Chelmowski, the man’s seizures were causing a pathway in his brain to signal sweating, which normally happens when someone is releasing body heat or is experiencing an emotion.
Once the cause of the man’s cyclical sweating was diagnosed, doctors treated him with anti-seizure medication – but temporal lobe seizures causes are unknown.
The patient was prescribed anti-seizure medication and in the last 18 months, has only had one cluster of sweating episodes.
WHAT IS A TEMPORAL LOBE SEIZURE?
Temporal lobe seizures begin in the temporal lobes of your brain, which process emotions and are important for short-term memory. Some symptoms of a temporal lobe seizure may be related to these functions, including having odd feelings — such as euphoria, deja vu or fear.
Temporal lobe seizures are sometimes called focal seizures with impaired awareness. Some people remain aware of what’s happening, but during more-intense seizures, you might look awake but be unresponsive. Your lips and hands may make purposeless, repetitive movements.
Temporal lobe seizures may stem from an anatomical defect or scar in your temporal lobe, but the cause is often unknown.
An unusual sensation (aura) may precede a temporal lobe seizure, acting as a warning. This could be a sense of unprovoked fear or joy, deja vu, a sudden or strange odor or taste or a rising sensation in the abdomen.
Sometimes temporal lobe seizures impair your ability to respond to others. This type of temporal lobe seizure usually lasts 30 seconds to two minutes. Characteristic signs and symptoms include a loss of awareness of surroundings, staring, lip smacking, repeated swallowing or chewing or unusual finger movements.
Often, the cause of temporal lobe seizures remains unknown. However, they can be a result of a number of factors, including:
- Infections, such as encephalitis or meningitis, or a history of such infections
- A process that causes scarring (gliosis) in a part of the temporal lobe called the hippocampus
- Blood vessel malformations in the brain
Source: Mayo Clinic