Sweating is a natural process. And everyone does it. But what about people who sweat too much?
Sweating a lot can be uncomfortable, and maybe a little smelly. It may also lead to embarrassment in social situations. Still, some people do it more than others.
Find out the answer to the question, “why do I sweat so much,” as well as what you can do about it. A little body sweat is normal. But sweating excessively may be an indicator of a more serious condition.
Generally, people sweat to regulate internal body temperature or in response to outside temperature. Emotional state may also influence your sweat glands and cause you to perspire. Other reasons that may make you sweat include:
- gustatory sweating – eating certain foods
All of this runs on its own via the autonomic system. That means it happens without thought and control from you.
There are 3 million sweat glands on average in the body. And there are 2 types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine.
First, the eccrine glands excrete sweat that’s typically light and odorless. These glands are located all over the body. The second type, however, is the culprits that produce odor.
Apocrine sweat glands are located in areas with hair follicles, such as the scalp, armpits, and groin. Perspiration from these glands is heavier and fat-laden. The sweat from these areas often has a distinctive odor because it mixes with bacteria on the skin when it breaks down.
What Is Excessive Sweating?
If you’re wondering “why do I sweat so much,” there’s a name for the condition. Sweating too much or hyperhidrosis is generally more active in certain areas like the armpits, hands, feet, and groin. However, officially there are two types of this condition: focal and generalized.
If you have focal hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating is concentrated in specific areas such as hands or feet. But generalized hyperhidrosis may give you excessive sweating throughout the entire body.
Most cases of excessive sweating may start during adolescence. But it can start from birth or develop later in life.
In addition, this condition may be associated with an underlying cause, in which case it’s called secondary hyperhidrosis. However, sometimes there are no apparent causes for excessive sweating. In those cases, it’s referred to as primary idiopathic hyperhidrosis.
Health conditions that may cause excessive sweating, or secondary hyperhidrosis, include:
- Heart attack
- Diabetic hypoglycemia
People who have severe symptoms may have additional psychological effects like anxiety, depression, and embarrassment. Sometimes sweating is so severe that it impacts other areas of life such as:
- career choices
- free-time activities
- interpersonal relationships
Additionally, it may also impact a person’s self-image and emotional well-being.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Everyone sweats at some point during the day. But you can call sweating “excessive” if it disrupts your day-to-day activities and if it happens at least once a week without a clear cause. And it probably has an effect on your social life or normal activities.
Further symptoms of excessive sweating are:
- has gone on for at least 6 months
- perspiration happens evenly in roughly the same amount and both sides of the body
- started when you were under 25 years of age
- it doesn’t happen when you’re sleeping
You may also be likely to have hyperhidrosis if you have a family history of the condition.
All of these symptoms may point to primary focal hyperhidrosis. However, you may need to schedule an appointment with your health care provider for an accurate diagnosis.
However, this condition may be a symptom of something more serious if you have the following to go with excessive sweating:
- pressure in the chest or chest pain
- weight loss
- only happens when you’re sleeping
Your doctor may ask you questions and perform a variety of diagnostic tests to confirm the condition.
If you do find that you’re sweating excessively, there are a few things you can do. A doctor may recommend a variety of treatments. Some medical options may include:
- prescription-strength deodorant
- blocking sweat glands with low-level electrical currents
- prescription drugs for general sweating
- Botox injections
However, there are also a few things you can do at home to improve the symptoms. If you don’t have an underlying cause for excessive sweating, you may want to try some of these home remedies:
Deodorants only block odor. But antiperspirants block sweating because they contain ingredients that block sweat glands.
Avoid Synthetic Fabrics
Certain fabrics that don’t breathe can trigger the sweat glands. So try to avoid synthetic ones like nylon and polyester. Instead, reach for breathable fabrics like cotton or wear loose clothing altogether.
If sweating is localized in the armpit region, you can try armpit shields. These pads are simply worn in the armpit to protect your clothing. It may not stop sweating, but you may avoid embarrassment if you tend to sweat a lot during social situations.
Watch Your Shoe Fabric
Like your clothing, certain shoe material may make sweating worse. So try to switch out your shoes for natural materials like leather to lessen foot sweat symptoms.
Natural Fiber Socks
Some socks may also help absorb moisture better than others. Look for socks that are relatively thick and made from natural fiber. Hiking and outdoor socks are generally made from these types of natural material.
Sweating is a natural body function. But for some people, this function goes haywire. Sweating a lot can cause embarrassment and anxiety in social situations. Unfortunately, for many, there may not be any cause for it.
There are a few home remedies that you can try to make yourself more comfortable and reduce the symptoms. However, if you experience excessive sweating that disrupts your daily activities, you may need to see your health care provider. They may provide an official diagnosis and additional medical remedies.
Lastly, if you do experience excessive sweating, you aren’t alone. According to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, as many as 4.8% of the US population experiences excessive sweating. While that knowledge may not keep you dry, it may put your mind at ease to know that there are plenty of people who know exactly what you’re going through.