What Does Excessive Sweating Indicate?

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.

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 come in to produce more sweat.

What Does Excessive Sweating Indicate
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-in-black-shirt-drinking-water-from-plastic-bottle-4719939/

How much sweating is too much?

Try this to figure out whether your sweating activity is normal or excessive. Observe yourself in a situation where the surroundings are cool and comfortable and you’re sitting at a desk not doing anything too exerting. If you find yourself still sweating a lot, then it may indicate that you’re sweating more than what is required 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, hormonal changes, or possibly as a result of medication you’re taking.

Primary Hyperhydrosis:

PubMed states that nearly 3% of the people present in the United States get affected by this condition. It has the potential to affect the mental status of an individual, particularly in social environments. 1

Primary hyperhidrosis is also known as primary focal hyperhidrosis [PFH] and causes sweating in the focal points of the body; as stated by Mayo Clinic. 2

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 available by science to answer the question that why this happens.

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

Pubmed states 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 Hyperhydrosis :

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 at the night. You might find yourself waking up in the middle of the night and find yourself being 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 flow, and higher metabolism levels.

Increased sweating can also occur due to hormonal imbalance. Some of the symptoms are:

  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 sweating too much in stressful and anxious situations, then this is for you.

MedExpress has explained the phenomenon by stating that the body’s stress hormones ready the body for immediate action by changing how the body functions when danger is perceived. 3

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 your doctor or counselor 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. Symptoms include heavy sweating during sleep, fever, pale skin, muscle 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.
  3. Tuberculosis: Other symptoms of tuberculosis can include coughing up blood, chest pain, unexplained fatigue, and fever.
  • Diabetes:

The 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 due to low blood sugar.

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 are 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 medications
  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:

  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.

Leave a Reply