What Does Excessive Sweating means?

Sweating after a strenuous workout or during those prickly summer months is normal. But are you sweating way too much? What does excessive sweating indicate?. Is it harmful to your body? All these questions will be covered here from a multifaceted perspective.

Sweating is your body’s response to overheating. In simple words, sweating is your body’s way of cooling down. Even though it may feel uncomfortable; it is a natural and healthy part of your life.

Excessive Sweating means
What Does Excessive Sweating means?

According to WebMD, sweating is the body’s way of reducing internal temperature. When temperatures inside the body rise for any reason, the sweat glands start producing more sweat.

How much sweating is too much?

You can try the following method to figure out whether your sweating activity is normal or not. Observe yourself in a situation where the surroundings are cool and comfortable and you are sitting calmly, not doing much. Now if you find yourself still sweating a lot, then it may indicate that you are sweating more than normal and you might have a medical condition called hyperhidrosis.

Elaborating on this, there are two main types of excessive sweating conditions:

  • Primary Hyperhidrosis
  • Secondary Hyperhidrosis

Primary hyperhidrosis does not have any distinct medical cause whereas secondary hyperhidrosis is caused by a medical condition like diabetes, an infection, or hormonal changes, or possibly as a result of medication you are taking.

Primary Hyperhidrosis:

A national survey conducted on 1,50,000 households in the United states revealed that nearly 3% of the people present in the United States were affected by hyperhidrosis and about 2% people were affected by axillary hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating to maintain body temperature) . Hyperhidrosis has the potential to affect the mental status of an individual, particularly in social environments.

Primary hyperhidrosis is also known as primary focal hyperhidrosis [PFH]. It can cause sweating in the focal points of the body. These points are:

  1. Armpits
  2. Palms
  3. Soles
  4. Groin area
  5. Face
  6. The area under the breasts

You might notice yourself sweating more than necessary after a workout or for simply no reason at all. This happens due to the overactive nerves which get the sweat glands going even though cooling is not required.

Unfortunately, there is no specific reason to answer the question that why does this happen.

Studies have stated this as a genetic condition. However, no solid proof and answers are available.

Research studies have shown that this condition usually starts appearing in the early stages of life [puberty to be exact]  and seems to run in families, thereby indicating its genetic connection as stated above.

Secondary Hyperhidrosis :

The causes of this condition are listed below:

  • Hormonal Changes:

Hormonal changes are very common during menopause and pregnancy. The most common symptom that every female experiences are hot flashes and night sweats.

Hot flashes can make you sweat throughout the body, particularly the face, head and chest.

Night sweats, as the name suggests can be experienced in the night. You might find yourself waking up in the middle of the night and drenched in sweat from head to toe. All this is very uncomfortable.

For pregnant women, such symptoms occur due to a surge in hormone levels, increased blood pressure and higher metabolism levels.

Increased sweating can also occur due to hormonal imbalance. Some symptoms are as follows:

  1. Dry skin
  2. Fatigue
  3. Constipation
  4. Weight gain
  5. Heightened sensitivity to cold or heat
  • Anxiety:

If you find your palms getting sweaty or you are sweating too much in stressful and anxious situations, then this is for you.

The stress hormones prepare the body for immediate action by changing how the body functions when danger is perceived. This includes an increase in sweating because the excess water present in the body is diverted to the skin rather than to the kidneys so that one doesn’t have to stop urinating and rather focus on defending themselves.

On the other hand, people who suffer from anxiety are at the edge of experiencing increased perspiration as a direct response to anxiety attacks, PTSD triggers, etc.

It is highly recommended that you consult a doctor to get back on the path and move ahead in your life smoothly.

  • Infection:

Excessive sweating can also be a symptom of various infections. These are:

  1. Endocarditis: This condition causes inflammation of the heart’s inner lining.  Besides night sweats, other symptoms can include fever or chills, pale skin, muscle or joint pain, nausea, and a feeling of fullness in the upper left part of your abdomen.
  2. Osteomyelitis: Besides sweating, this bone infection can also cause pain, redness, and swelling of the affected area. It can also cause fever and chills, stiffness, and irritability.
  3. Tuberculosis: Other symptoms of tuberculosis can include coughing up blood, chest pain, unexplained fatigue, and fever.
  • Diabetes:

Healthline states three ways in which people with diabetes may experience excess sweating: one in response to low blood sugar, one concerning food, and one solely occurring at night.

Excess perspiration or night sweats that may occur due to low blood sugar is called hypoglycemia.

Other symptoms that one might experience if their blood sugar is low are:

  1. Racing heartbeat
  2. Hunger
  3. Shakiness
  4. Flushing
  • Medication:

Several medications can also cause a side effect of excessive sweating.

If you taking medicines and sweat excessively then lookout for the following list of drugs:

  1. Hormone replacement therapy
  2. Diabetes medication
  3. Antidepressants
  4. Blood pressure regulating drugs
  5. Cardiovascular-related meds
  6. Chemotherapy
  7. Beta-blockers

All these medications have shown excessive sweating as a side effect in some people.

  • Other Causes Of Sweating:

There may be other causes of sweating that one might experience which are as follows:

  1. Anxiety disorders
  2. Autoimmune disorders
  3. Autonomic neuropathy
  4. HIV and AIDS
  5. Hodgkin’s disease
  6. Leukemia
  7. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  8. Syringomyelia
  9. Thyroid disorders
  10. Alcohol withdrawal
  11. Marijuana, cocaine, or opioid withdrawal

How Can One Stop This Condition:

One can try the following changes:

  • Stop consuming spicy foods, caffeine, hot foods and beverages as they induce sweating
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing
  • Use moisture-wicking socks, clothing, etc.
  • Try prescription-based medical creams, topicals, antiperspirants, etc.
  • Botox injections
  • Sweat gland removal surgery
  • Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy
  • Iontophoresis

About the author

Deepanshu has a Master's in chemistry. He has worked extensively on research subjects regarding cancer and radio nuclear science and has continually reviewed nutrition science.

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