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Is Sweating Good For You

by Lyndon Langley
Is Sweating Good For You

Is Sweating Good For You

Sweating is often viewed as something to be ashamed of, but it actually serves an important biological function. From a physiological perspective, sweating is absolutely a good thing. Our bodies wouldn’t survive long enough to develop without sweating. The average person sweats about 2 liters (66 ounces) of fluid per day. That’s about two gallons — that’s why they call it perspiration! It keeps our core temperature low so our organs don’t have to work too hard, which allows us to do more work before getting tired. And sweating can help cool down your brain, which is crucial for thinking clearly.
Sweat acts like a kind of thermostat, moderating our internal temperatures so that our brains aren’t always trying to maintain them at 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius). This helps reduce mental fatigue. But excessive sweating also causes pain, discomfort, irritation and embarrassment. If you’re someone who suffers from this problem, keep reading for tips on how to cope with it.
There are many different kinds of sweating disorders. One type is called eccrine hyperhidrosis, where people suffer from uncontrollable sweating all over their bodies. In contrast, another type is called apocrine hyperhidrosis, where excessive sweating occurs around the armpits and groin area. There are also primary focal hyperhidrosis, where there is one specific spot that sweats excessively, and secondary focal hyperhidrosis, where there are multiple spots that sweat excessively. Primary focal hyperhidrosis affects an estimated 3 million Americans.
What Causes Excessive Sweating?
Many factors can lead to excess sweating, including infection, injury, disease, psychological stress and medication side effects. People with certain medical conditions, particularly those related to the endocrine system, may experience bouts of intense sweating. Some medications used to treat high blood pressure, such as beta blockers, can also cause excessive sweating. Other medications, such as diuretics, antidepressants and narcotic drugs, can make symptoms worse by causing dehydration.
People who exercise intensely tend to get sweaty easily because of rapid changes in heart rate and increased levels of hormones. Women sometimes experience hot flashes during menopause when estrogen levels drop, which can trigger sweating. Even normal daily tasks can result in profuse sweating, such as taking a shower, washing dishes or doing laundry.
Excessively hot environments can also cause sweating. Heat-retaining fabrics, such as polypropylene, nylon and spandex, trap moisture next to the skin. So even though you might feel dry inside, you’ll still retain water through evaporation. When trapped between layers of fabric and air, the moisture can become saturated and form droplets that break off into tiny particles. These small liquid droplets evaporate on contact with the skin, cooling the surface below and increasing the chances of further sweating. A variety of fabrics can exacerbate this effect. Cotton absorbs moisture readily, while wool and silk release moisture slowly. Another way to counter this phenomenon is to wear loose clothing instead of tight ones. Loose garments allow moisture and sweat vapor to escape.
The best treatment for excessive sweating depends on the underlying cause. If you think you might have a condition such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, pheochromocytoma, Cushing syndrome or any other disorder of the endocrine system, see your doctor immediately. Medications used to treat these diseases can cause sweating. Also, check with your physician if you’ve recently suffered head trauma, experienced severe burns, had surgery or been hospitalized. He or she will know whether you should take precautions against overheating or need special protective equipment.
If you suffer from chronic intense sweating due to an emotional response to an overwhelming situation, seek professional assistance. Talk therapy and anti-anxiety medications can help relieve the stress. Consider biofeedback training to address muscle tension and learn relaxation techniques. Cognitive behavioral therapy can teach you coping skills to manage stress and anxiety. Your health care provider may prescribe medications to control the sweating, or he or she may suggest Botox injections, which block nerves responsible for triggering sweating.
Although excessive sweating is embarrassing, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go outside. On the contrary, going outdoors could expose you to additional risks. Keep reading to find out what happens when you sweat it out.
You probably already know that extreme heat has serious consequences. While it seems like common sense, if you don’t believe us, consider the following statistics:
One in four deaths each year is caused by environmental heat exposure

More than 1 billion working days worldwide are lost annually due to heat-related illnesses

Heatstroke kills about 115,000 people every year

Overweight adults can lose up to 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) of water weight each hour in very warm weather

In July 2007, for example, temperatures reached 108 degrees F (42.2 degrees C) in Phoenix, Arizona. At least 12 people died in traffic accidents, nine of them children, and hundreds were injured. Most drivers didn’t use seat belts, according to police reports. All of the victims were young Hispanic males, most likely homeless. They were either drunk or distracted by cell phones [Source: Associated Press].
How To Protect Yourself Against Overheating
It’s easy to take short cuts to save money, time and effort. We want shortcuts that won’t put our lives at risk. Unfortunately, some of the things that seem so simple can turn deadly. Here are just a few examples:
Avoiding overexertion: Many people underestimate the danger of prolonged physical activity in excessively hot climates. As little as 20 minutes in 90 degree F (32.2 degrees C) heat without proper rest can cause dangerous exhaustion.

Drinking fluids: Drink plenty of noncaffeinated liquids to avoid dehydration. Dehydration makes you thirsty, irritates your digestive tract and leads to loss of salt. Salt is needed in the human body to regulate sodium levels. With dehydration, sodium builds up in cells, leading to hypernatremia, a potentially fatal rise in the level of salts in the bloodstream. Drinking fluids also dilutes body temperature, reducing your risk of overheating.

Wearing lightweight clothes: Wear light, breathable cotton, linen or synthetic fibers that let moisture evaporate quickly. Avoid wearing thick, heavy, tightly woven fabrics that hold in moisture and heat.

Avoiding sunburns: Sunscreens offer protection from ultraviolet rays that cause sunburn. However, sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octocrylene, commonly found in cosmetics and sunscreen products, absorb sunlight and emit UVA radiation. If you use sunscreen lotions, ask your dermatologist about the potential dangers of using them.

Sharing information: Share travel maps and emergency numbers with friends and family members ahead of time. Let them know exactly where you plan to go. Don’t leave home without a cell phone in case of an accident. Carry identification cards and extra cash.

Not everyone knows that excessive sweating is a symptom of a serious condition. Doctors often misdiagnose patients as having allergies or psychogenic disorders. If you suspect that you may have a real medical condition, consult a medical professional. Treatment options vary depending on the underlying cause. Read on to find out how to determine if you have excessive sweating.
Excessive Sweating Diagnosis
If you think you have excessive sweating, see your doctor to rule out a medical condition. If you don’t have insurance, you may qualify for free or reduced services under Medicaid, Medicare, veterans’ benefits or other programs. Call local hospitals and clinics first to see whether they participate in the program.
To diagnose excessive sweating, your doctor will conduct a thorough exam. He or she will listen to your chest, lungs and heart, examine your eyes, ears and nose, test your reflexes, look at your tongue and throat, and assess your overall appearance, energy level and state of mind. Your doctor will also run tests to determine if you have thyroid or pituitary gland malfunction, adrenal insufficiency, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver failure, infection or cancer. Your doctor may order urine tests to determine hormone levels. He or she may perform other specialized testing, such as X-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, PET scans, endoscopy and biopsy.
Once the results come back, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you. Depending upon the severity of your condition, your doctor might recommend lifestyle modifications, medications, botulinum toxin injections, ionic footbaths, surgery or anything else necessary to restore balance to your body and improve quality of life.
Now that you understand the basics of sweating, read on to find out how it relates to fitness.
When you sweat, your body releases toxins from hair follicles, sebaceous glands and apocrine sweat ducts. During sweating, the kidneys excrete waste products from the blood stream, such as urea and creatinine. Sweats contain lactic acid, ammonia, carbon dioxide, uric acid, urea, alcohol and various hormones.
Sweat and Fitness
As far back as ancient Greece, athletes knew the importance of drinking lots of water before competing in strenuous events. Today, sports drinks are popular alternatives to plain old H2O.

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