If you were brought up in the previous century, sweating was just a part of daily work-life and nothing more. Sweat meant hard work, fear or excessive heat. Men were a source of inspiration in society depending on how much they sweated to provide for their families. Children sweated when it was their turn to submit homework to teachers or to show their progress reports to parents. They also sweated playing botherless in the sun.
Today, sweating can mean anything from a normal workout at the gym to a cardiac arrest symptom. We’ll get to the nitty-gritties in a bit. First, let’s understand what is sweat.
Sweat, also called perspiration is tiny droplets of water that appear on the surface of the skin in response to heat, work, anxiety or specific medical conditions. It contains water and salts. Sweat is the body’s natural response mechanism to cool itself.
The following are the medical terms for sweat.
- Hidrosis is the act of sweating.
- Anhidrosis is the absence of sweat due to the body’s inability to make sweat.
- Hypohydrosis is insufficient sweat.
- Hyperhydrosis is excessive or profuse sweating, and these five reasons are why it could be happening.
1. STRENUOUS PHYSICAL ACTIVITY causes over-sweating. A workout at the gym, walking, running, cycling, household chores, taking the stairs etc. are day-to-day examples of physical activity. The body generates excessive heat during strenuous activity, releasing drops of sweat through the skin for the main purpose of cooling and relaxing the body. This kind of sweating is good as it aids in keeping you active and healthy.
2. CERTAIN MEDICAL CONDITIONS like hyperthyroidism, hypoglycemia, infection and some kind of cancers cause over-sweating Hyperthyroidism increases thyroid hormones beyond what the body requires, resulting in generation of body heat Hypoglycemia is a drastic drop in blood glucose levels. This releases an excess of adrenaline, the fight-or-flee hormone, which in turn produces excessive sweat.
Fighting an infection increases body temperature, resulting in sweat. Loss of immunity due to cancer and the ensuing treatment with chemotherapy make a person prone to infection, followed by increase in body temperature and sweat.
3. EMOTIONAL DISTRESS like fear, anxiety, trauma, nervousness and mental strain triggers the brain to release cortisol – a hormone that regulates stress in the body. This increases body heat that stimulates the sweat glands and produces excessive perspiration.
4. MEDICATIONS like pain-killers, insulin, inhalers, proton pump inhibitors and anti-depressants cause the body to sweat profusely as a side effect.
5. PREGNANCY OR MENOPAUSE can cause erratic hormonal changes in the body. They trigger the body’s sweat glands, resulting in excessive sweating. Night sweats are common in pregnancy, while sudden and unexpected breaks of sweats characterize menopause.
TIPS TO HANDLE OVER-SWEATING
The reasons could be five or more, but these tips can help replenish the supply of moisture, keep sweat in check and handle the fatigue.
- Water (or flavored fluids, if you will).
- Water-rich fruits and vegetables.
- Foods rich in calcium – dairy products and greens.
- Foods rich in antioxidants – olive oil and nuts
- Foods rich in magnesium – pumpkin seeds and spinach
- Foods rich in fiber – oats and whole grains
- Green/Herbal teas
- Anti-perspirants (externally) to combat the bad odour.
While over-sweating can be handled, chronic cases of hyperhidrosis (over-sweating) are treated at the hospital, depending on the cause, intensity and case history.