Even though it seems kind of gross, sweating is perfectly normal. We go to great lengths to mask it with antiperspirants, but we'd actually be in big trouble if we didn't sweat. Sweating is our body's way of cooling itself. Each person has between 2 and 5 million sweat glands spread across his or her body. You may have noticed you sweat more in places like your feet, your hands or your forehead. Contrary to what you might think, there aren't many sweat glands in your armpits. But we tend to emit more body odor from our armpits because sweat doesn't evaporate as quickly from that area.
Most of our sweat is released by the eccrine sweat glands, which are stimulated when the body is hot. When stimulated, these glands release a watery substance onto the skin. When this moisture evaporates, the body cools down. If we're sweating due to an emotional response, like anxiety, sweat is released from the apocrine glands. These glands are stimulated when we're nervous or overly excited.
But what if you sweat more than the average person? What causes your body to sweat in overdrive? Excessive sweating happens for many reasons. Usually the reasons are pretty benign, like heavy exertion or hot weather. And some people just sweat more than others. However, there are some legitimate medical conditions that can cause excessive sweating:
- Thyroid problems
- Heart failure
If you're concerned about excessive sweating, you should see a doctor. Also, keep in mind that certain medications, including the following, can cause excessive sweating:
- Medicines for dry mouth
- Some mineral supplements, like zinc
In general, sweating is a pretty normal thing. It's up to you and your doctor to decide if the amount you sweat is excessive, and if you need medical attention. Otherwise, a good antiperspirant and loose-fitting clothes should help you to minimize sweating.
For more on your health and body issues, check out the links on the next page.
- "Anhidrosis." MayoClinic.com. Jan. 9, 2010. (Aug. 5, 2010) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/anhidrosis/DS01050
- "Eccrine Sweat Glands." Sweating.ca. 2010. (Aug. 5, 2010) http://www.sweating.ca/eccrine_sweat_glands.html
- Freudenrich, Craig. "How Sweat Works." HowStuffWorks.com. Oct. 9, 2000. (Aug. 5, 2010) https://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/information/anatomy/sweat3.htm
- Griffin, R. Morgan. "Is Your Excessive Sweating Caused by a Medical Problem?" WebMD. July 13, 2009. (Aug. 5, 2010) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/is-your-excessive-sweating-caused-by-a-medical-problem
- "Why Do I Sweat So Much?" KidsHealth.org. Nov. 2007. (Aug. 5, 2010) http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_body/take_care/sweat.html
- "Why Do We Sweat?" Antiperspirants Info. 2010. (Aug. 5, 2010) http://www.antiperspirantsinfo.com/english/sweat.php