Sweating: when is it too much and what you can do about it?
Feeling sweaty? Sweating is a necessary bodily process that cools down our body. Here’s when it’s too much - and how you can control it.
Sweating is natural. Though we might not always welcome it, sweat plays a critical role in aiding the body to maintain the right temperature. But how to know when sweating is normal, or when it’s excessive?
Why do bodies sweat?
Sweating is a necessary bodily process that cools down the body. If it gets too hot, the nervous system stimulates sweat glands that begin to perspire in order to prevent from overheating due to warm weather, exercise or exertion.
Although the sweat glands are typically stimulated through the body’s temperature, they can also be triggered by stress, anxiety and hormones.
The reason we may end up smelling after sweating is due to bacteria produced to help break down the sweat. Even the diet can influence sweating - especially if it’s rich in spicy foods.
Sweating: what is normal?
How much we sweat really depends on the demands your body is taking. If we are exercising, working in a physically demanding role or are in a hot climate all day, we are going to sweat - and that’s completely normal. Some people produce more sweat, some produce less. Sweat can also be produced when in a stressful or uncomfortable situation - which you’ve probably experienced if you’ve had a nerve-wracking interview... or awkward date.
When is it excessive?
If there is the sense of sweating a lot, all of the time (and particularly in certain body areas), then it might be the case of a condition known as hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweat. Basically, it means that the body is sweating far more than it needs to - such as while sitting comfortably at the desk.
Though it can be embarrassing, hyperhidrosis is a common condition and doesn’t pose any serious threat to health. It mainly affects the armpits, palms of the hands, soles of the feet, face, chest, and groin. Sweating ay be excessive when it results in:
- Avoiding physical contact with other people due to self-consciousness about sweat.
- Stop going to the gym or taking part in workout classes for fear they might increase weat.
- Interfering with the daily tasks: cannot shake hands, hold tools or use a computer mouse.
- Preventing normal activities, such as driving, are hindered by sweat.
- Life being negatively impacted and much of the time consumed with sweat coping mechanisms. i.e.: rushing home early to shower or changing clothes frequently.
- Becoming depressed, anxious, or socially withdrawn due to sweating.
How to take control of excessive sweat?
Hyperhidrosis can be tricky to treat, but there are plenty of lifestyle changes that can be made to make life easier.
Firstly, wearing loose, breathable clothes. Avoiding triggers such as alcohol and chilli, especially if we know they make our sweating worse. If there is a worry about people seeing excessive sweating, wearing black or white clothes can help minimise the sweat patches.
Staying hydrated throughout the day can also help. Removing excess hair from the armpits can help to reduce body odour. If there is excessive sweating occurring at work or during workouts, tying the hair back can help. A face clear of hair will cool the body down faster - wearing a head band is also an effective anti-sweat measure.
Here are special tips on how to identify symptoms of dehydration and how to stay hydrated.