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The Science of Sweat

by | Apr 26, 2016

hyperhidrosis If you think sweating is totally gross, you’re not alone. Lots of people do what they can to avoid sweat as it often causes unappealing body odor and unattractive moistness that just looks so unclean. Yes, it’s unpleasant, but it is also completely necessary and incredibly healthy.

Why do we sweat?
Throughout history, our ability to sweat has kept humankind alive. Other mammals don’t sweat, so their internal body temperatures can run much higher than our own. Rather, most mammals pant, which can slow an animal down. As humans, we don’t have to stop running to cool ourselves down; our sweat glands do the work for us and allow us to keep moving in the process.

As our body temperature rises, we fight back by dilating blood vessels to release heat until the temperature returns to normal. So, when the brain senses that the body is getting too hot, it activates our 4 million sweat glands, which can be found everywhere on the body except for the lips. Water is released from the pores and evaporates, releasing heat and leaving cooler water in its place.

Can a person sweat too much?
As many as 8 million Americans suffer from an excessive sweating problem called hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis sufferers sweat four to five times as much as the average individual and have to use special methods to stop excessive body sweating.

Generalized hyperhidrosis affects up to 3% of the population and occurs as a symptom of an underlying health condition such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or alcohol withdrawal. Another type, localized hyperhidrosis, is believed to stem from a malfunction within the nervous system, which causes the sweat glands to become overactive.

How do you cure excessive sweating?
Treatments for hyperhidrosis include the application of an iontophoresis machine. This involves the use of a medical device that delivers mild electric currents to parts of your body that are submerged in water. Iontophoresis temporarily disengages the sweat glands to stop them from releasing moisture.

Sweating is an essential function for maintaining physical health. Without the body’s coolant system, we may become overheated, which can be deadly. However, sweating too much can be detrimental to a person’s mental and emotional wellbeing. If you are concerned about your level of perspiration, talk to your doctor about hyperhidrosis.

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