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Why Do I Sweat?
There are a couple of reasons you might be concerned about how much you sweat. You may sweat a normal amount and simply be self-conscious about perspiration, or you may be someone who does sweat more than other people.
In most cases, excess perspiration is completely harmless and nothing to be concerned about.
What Causes Sweating?
Your skin is the largest organ of your body. Two of its main roles are to balance fluids and detoxify your body, and sweating aids both of these processes.
You have approximately 100 sweat glands per square inch on the surface of your body, which help to maintain the permeability of your skin cells. Without your sweat glands, your skin would dry out, crack, and fail in its ability to protect your body from the onslaught of harmful substances like ozone, pollutants, and temperature extremes. Your skin would not remain intact without your sweat glands, and without your skin, you would simply shrivel up and die.
The human body must maintain a steady body temperature of approximately 98.6 degrees F in order to thrive and function. Your sweat glands respond to internal and external changes in temperature, and when your body registers that it needs to conserve heat, you sweat less. When it needs to cool off, you sweat more — another way that your sweat glands keep you alive.
Additionally, a proper balance of sodium and other minerals is needed within your cells or you cannot survive. Sweat glands assist this process by ridding the body of any excess sodium and these other minerals. Imbalances of minerals and electrolytes may result in heart failure, kidney disease, and problems within each cell.
As you can see, sweating actually keeps you alive. The next time that you are concerned about how much you perspire, pause for a moment and give thanks that you have these marvelous sweat glands that keep you comfortable and make life possible.
How Come I Sweat More Than Other People?
There are a wide array of factors that influence how much you sweat.
- Men tend to sweat more than women.
- If you are in a hot and humid environment your body must work harder to stay cool than if you are indoors in a climate controlled environment.
- You will sweat more if you overdress for the weather or environmental conditions.
- Your genetics play a role in how much you perspire.
- Some people are naturally “moister” than others.
The Role of Hormones
Hormones affect how much you perspire. When you entered puberty you began to sweat more than you did while you were a child, primarily due to changes in hormone levels.
If you’re a woman who menstruates, you may find that you perspire more heavily at this time of the month, while hot flashes and night sweats are notorious for disturbing perimenopausal and menopausal women. This is due to changing progesterone and estrogen levels. Try drinking sage tea regularly to help reduce night sweats and hot flashes considerably.
Those with pulmonary problems may experience lung infections caused by nontuberculous mycobacteria, an organism that is present in soil and water.
Some women opt for hormone therapies to help them cope with menopausal changes including excess sweating. Consider using bio-identical hormones or herbal remedies to obtain relief.
What you eat can impact your internal body heat and sweating. Foods high in calories, such as fats, have traditionally been consumed in greater amounts during cold winter months in order to help people stay warm, and so if you eat a diet that contains great amounts of heavy, greasy foods, you may sweat more. You will also gain weight, and heavier people often sweat more than thinner people. Eat light, healthy foods and you may find that you sweat less.
Some people find that they sweat more when they consume spicy foods. Notice if you are among those people and make dietary changes if needed.
Alcoholic beverages have been consumed for millennia as a way to “take the chill off.” If you consume alcohol, you may sweat more.
Vigorous activity generates heat within your body. In order to maintain a healthy body temperature, you sweat more when you are active so that you do not become overheated.
Make sure that you drink plenty of fluids while exercising as this will help your body to maintain its proper temperature. Drinking extra fluids while you exercise will not make you sweat excessively; it will simply keep you healthy.
When the weather is hot, consider exercising early or late in the day. You may prefer to exercise indoors during steamy weather. Dress appropriately for the conditions and wear clothing that allows air to circulate freely and wicks perspiration away from your body.
Most of us work too hard. We worry, push ourselves to over-achieve, and don’t take time to pay attention to the stress signals our bodies send us. Do you sweat because you are pressured or anxious? Is your workload realistic? Do you need to let some things go? Would taking a time management skills class be helpful for you?
You may be sweating due to your emotions. If this is the case, it is time to take a close look at your life and take steps to reduce stress or cope with it better. Stress doesn’t just make you sweat; it can kill you, so listen to your body.
Many medications are capable of changing the amount you sweat. Some medications and health conditions impact odor related to perspiration. If you suffer from difficulty breathing or your blood sugar level drops, you are likely to sweat.
Excess perspiration accompanied by chest pain or difficulty breathing may be a sign of a heart attack. If you experience these symptoms seek emergency medical assistance immediately.
Sweating may be a sign of a fever. If you have an increase in perspiration and are not feeling well, check your temperature. A tepid bath or over the counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen will reduce fever. Ascertain what type of illness is causing the illness and resultant increase in perspiration. Sweating and fever most often indicates the presence of an infection. Consult with your healthcare provider if you have questions.
Other illnesses that may cause changes in sweating include adrenal tumors, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and panic. People who abuse stimulant medications may sweat profusely.
Heat exhaustion may initially cause sweating, but as it worsens, sweating may cease. This is a medical emergency and professional emergency treatment must be obtained without delay.
Most of the time, sweating is simply a fact of life. Regular bathing, proper dressing, and the use of personal hygiene products can make you feel less self-conscious about this normal, life-saving action.