Do You Sweat Too Much?

    A woman sweating with a towel around her neck and wiping her forehead

    Regular sweating controls our body temperature and body water. We always sweat to some degree, but it’s more noticeable in hot environments, during exercising, or in times of physical or psychological stress. 8 million people in the U.S. suffer from hyperhidrosis, a condition where someone sweats unpredictably and more often than necessary. But how can you tell if you suffer from this?

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    Why We Sweat

    We have 2-4 million sweat glands in our bodies, concentrated on the forehead, face, hands underarms, and feet. They produce sweat that’s excreted through skin pores to protect us from overheating. As the sweat evaporates, it cools our skin down, says David Pariser, MD, professor in the department of dermatology at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va.

    Why Am I Sweating More Than I Should?

    Many people with hyperhidrosis sweat about four times more than normal, although it could be much more or much less. The key is that they sweat a lot at times the body does not need to cool down. Someone could be calm, relaxed, and cool, but still sweat excessively.

    Researchers aren’t sure what causes hyperhidrosis, but doctors think there may be something wrong between the pathways from the sweat glands to the brain. It appears that the glands are too sensitive in people with hyperhidrosis. This problem may be hardwired in some people. Also, hyperhidrosis tends to run in families — up to two-thirds of people have it their family, says Pariser. And it tends to start in puberty.

    Pariser says that hyperhydrosis tends to show itself in three to four areas: Under the arms, on the hands, then on the feet, face, and scalp. But excessive sweating can occur all over the body. The sweating is usually symmetric, meaning that both sides of the body are affected similarly.

    How Much Is Too Much Sweat?

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