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• You become depressed, anxious, or socially withdrawn due to sweating.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