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Fitness

Why Do Some People Sweat More Than Others?

5 Mins read

Are you curious about the science behind why some people sweat more than others? In human anatomy, releasing sweat is an effective way for the body to regulate and cool itself. It’s a natural process that everyone experiences. However, it can get pretty embarrassing when you have hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweat due to overactive sweat glands. 

Hyperhidrosis is a condition that makes you perspire more than usual and in areas where other people wouldn’t. Having sweaty palms, highly visible armpit stains, or an obvious wet map of sweat on your chest can make you feel self-conscious to the point that it can impact your social life and work. After all, it’s common to associate sweat with body odor and poor hygiene, so it’s understandable why you might feel embarrassed about sweating too much. 

If the amount of sweat your body makes is stressing you out, it is a cause for concern. You could have a strong hyperhidrosis tendency, which is a medical disorder that makes you sweat excessively beyond what’s normal. This means even when the ambient temperature is cool and you’re not engaged in any activity, you could be sweating buckets. But bear in mind that you don’t have to suffer through this inconvenience. Find out why some people sweat more than others, and learn what you can do to manage excessive production of sweat. 

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The Body’s Cooling Mechanism

Thermoregulation is the primary reason why your body produces sweat. When it’s too hot out or your body temp rises from exercise, stress, or hormonal changes, your sweat glands produce sweat to release heat and keep your internal temperature at a comfy 37 degrees Celsius or 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. 

On top of that, sweat helps with skin hydration and keeps your system in retaining a balance of fluids and electrolytes. Contrary to what most people believe, sweat is not just water. It also contains a combination of the following:

  • Chloride 
  • Calcium
  • Potassium 
  • Magnesium

You have to be thankful for your body’s sweat mechanism even if it is inconvenient, messy, and sometimes, stinky. Bear in mind that without it, your body will overheat and “cook” from the inside out. 

Reasons for Sweating Too Much

Often, external stimuli play a big factor in how much sweat you produce. For example, running on a hot summer day, eating spicy foods, or drinking caffeinated beverages increase your body’s internal temp. This signals your sweat glands to release liquid to cool your body down. 

However, there are also other reasons that affect the volume of sweat your body produces. Check them out below: 

  • Genetics: Hyperhidrosis could be hereditary, running in families. This means if your father or grandfather complain about excessive sweating, don’t be surprised if your tendency for excessive sweating is higher. You can find out some of your genetic health conditions by taking a CircleDNA test
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  • Body Type: In general, the rule of thumb is the larger you are the more heat you generate, because you must move more body mass. More heat equates to more sweat. On top of that, the larger the surface area, the more sweat is needed to cool off.
  • Age: The way you sweat changes as you become older. As you age, you become more intolerant to heat. Your body’s ability to cool itself efficiently also takes a hit. Hence, you may end up producing more sweat.
  • Muscle Composition: If you have a higher percentage of muscle mass, you may sweat more. That’s because muscle mass is a lot denser and creates more heat than fat. So even if two individuals have the same weight, the one with more muscle mass will likely sweat more. However, if you’re more fit, you are less likely to sweat when you perform the same task compared to a sedentary person.
  • Health Issues: Certain health conditions influence the way your body products sweat. For example, hormonal fluctuations just as those experienced with perimenopause, menopause, or pregnancy may result in hot flashes. Similarly, people with metabolic disorders, diabetes, or thyroid issues are also likely to sweat a lot. 
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Common Areas Where You Might Sweat Excessively 

Extreme sweating or hyperhidrosis is a dermatologic disorder that can be severely emotionally damaging. Its crippling effects are real, causing anxiety and depression because you feel as if your body is out of control. If your life is being ruined by uncontrolled and excessive sweating, you are not alone. 

Studies show that about 5% or roughly 365 million people around the globe struggle with excessive sweating. These numbers may be even higher because most people who suffer from hyperhidrosis feel ashamed to talk about their symptoms. Here are the most common areas affected by excessive sweating:

  • Armpits
  • Palms of hands
  • Soles of feet
  • Chest
  • Face
  • Groin
  • Back

Everyone experiences symptoms differently. You may end up with sopping wet socks, while others avoid handshakes because of sweaty palms. Others even sweat through their shirts or jeans. Regardless of where you sweat, the stress and anxiety you feel are real because you feel ashamed to face people. 

Don’t Sweat it: Find Solutions

Although sweating is a normal bodily function, most people don’t welcome it. Sweat feels sticky and icky. The appearance of sweat rings plus the foul smell can be very embarrassing. You may end up feeling paranoid about what people will say. Fortunately, you can counter these issues by using an antiperspirant to dry out your armpits and using a deodorizer to mask the smell. It would also help watch out for triggers that can make you sweat even more. Examples are the following:

  • Consuming too much caffeine
  • Eating a lot of spicy food
  • Drinking hot beverages
  • Wearing non-breathable fabrics
  • Forgoing daily showers

If you suffer from hyperhidrosis, you could start by making lifestyle changes and avoiding the bad habits noted above. If those don’t work, it would help to consult with your doctor to rule out what medical conditions could be causing your excessive sweat. Your sweaty problem could also be side effects of certain prescribed medications that affect your body’s sweat production. 

There’s a strong likelihood that your physician will give you a prescription-grade antiperspirant. This clinical strength product contains active ingredients like aluminum chloride to inhibit your sweat glands from producing too much liquid. The aluminum salts react with your sweat, forming a gel plug that blocks your sweat glands. This is not a health concern because these plugs will be sloughed off eventually when your skin sheds. 

If it’s really a strong hyperhidrosis tendency that doesn’t respond to clinical antiperspirants, there are more alternative ways to treat hyperhidrosis. Botox can help treat hyperhidrosis. Botox is injected into the area and it blocks the nerves that signal your sweat glands to produce sweat. However, this is not a magic overnight treatment. You may need to go in every 6 months for Botox injections, because nerves regenerate. 

If you want a more permanent solution, sympathectomy is the more permanent, surgical solution. However, this is considered a major surgery done under anesthesia in a hospital setting because a surgeon will cut you open to destroy certain nerves that send signals to the sweat glands to release sweat. This is an effective procedure to treat hyperhidrosis, but it comes with certain risks so have a thorough discussion with your doctor if this is the right option for you. 

You may decide you don’t need to treat this condition. Every time you feel bad about sweating it out, remind yourself that sweating is an important bodily function that keeps you healthy. 

Hannah Wabe
116 posts

About author
Hannah Victoria Wabe has an MA in Development Communication, which shows how just much she loves and believes in the power of words. She works part-time as a writer and educator but works full-time as a mother of three kids, ranging from 8 to 18. Though she’s not a big fan of math, she believes in counting blessings and imbibes an attitude of gratitude.
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