Sweating is a natural response to certain conditions, such as warm weather, physical activity, stress, and feelings of fear or anger. Excessive sweating is known as hyperhidrosis.
1. Heat and humidity
Sweating is your body’s built-in cooling system. When the temperature rises, millions of tiny sweat glands in your skin are activated and sweat is released through your pores. As your sweat evaporates, it cools you off. Yet leftover sweat can leave your skin soaked – especially on humid days when the air is already so saturated with moisture that your sweat evaporates more slowly.
What you should do: You can’t prevent sweating. Your body needs it to keep you cool, but if you’re getting drenched every time you go outside on a warm day, try using a clinical-strength antiperspirant deodorant that blocks sweating and helps prevent body odour. You can also wear lightweight natural fabrics to help stay dry.
2. Hard workouts
Exercising turns up your body’s internal heating system. As you pump your arms and legs, your body temperature rises. Sweating is your body’s way of getting rid of that extra heat.
What you should do: Exercise indoors in a cool place so you don’t sweat so much. If you prefer to exercise outdoors, do it in the morning or late afternoon when it’s not so hot outside. Remember, when you sweat you’re losing fluids. So drink plenty of water or a sports drink before, during, and after your exercise routine.
3. Strong Feelings:
Your emotions – from anger to love to stress – can make you sweat. Emotional sweating triggers the sweat glands on the palms of your hands, as well as under your arms and on the soles of your feet. That’s why your palms get moist when you’re really attracted to someone, or during a job interview.
What you should do: A good antiperspirant deodorant can help keep your underarms dry during sticky situations. For sweating on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet, you can undergo a technique called iontophoresis. During this therapy your hands or feet are submerged in water that is charged with a mild electrical current, or moist electrode pads are applied to the skin.
4. Hot and spicy food
Spicy foods trigger the same receptors in your skin that respond to heat, which is why you have to dab your forehead and upper lip when you eat an extra-hot curry.
The beer you drink with that curry could also make you sweat by widening blood vessels in your skin. Even your morning coffee can cause you to sweat, because caffeine stimulates the sweat glands as well.
What you should do: The simplest thing to do is to cut down or stop eating spicy foods. Sweating while you eat may also be a side effect of salivary gland or neck surgery, which botulinum toxin injections can sometimes treat. If alcohol is making you sweat and you can’t stop drinking on your own, ask your doctor about help cutting back.
A fever is your body’s way of fighting off an infection. Because your body temperature is still a few degrees higher than your norm, you will sweat to cool off. When your fever breaks and the illness is gone, your internal thermostat sets itself back to normal – around 37C (98.6F).
You don’t have to be feverish to sweat. Different diseases can cause sweating, including diabetes, angina (a type of chest pain) and cancer.
What you should do: You can bring down a fever with medicines containing paracetamol or ibuprofen. If the fever is high – 38C (100.4F) or over – or you also have symptoms such as a stiff neck, breathing difficulty, a rash, vomiting or seizures, seek urgent medical advice.
6. Smoking (Nicotine)
Add to the list of complaints against cigarettes their propensity to make you sweat. When you smoke, the nicotine you inhale causes your body to release a chemical called acetylcholine, which stimulates your sweat glands.
What you should do: Quitting smoking is the best solution, and it can also reduce your risks of cancer, heart disease and stroke. Talk to your GP or pharmacist about help stopping smoking so you can quit for good.
7. Pregnancy and menopause:
Women have to contend with sweating throughout their reproductive lifespan. During pregnancy, changing hormone levels increase blood flow, which slightly raises the body’s temperature. In menopause, the drop in oestrogen affects your body’s internal temperature gauge. Breaking out in a sweat helps fight hot flushes.
What should do: Wear light, breathable fabrics. Cool off with a refreshing shower or bath. Drink plenty of water so you don’t get dehydrated.
Some medicines – like ibuprofen – help cool you down when you have a fever. Others, including some antidepressants, blood pressure drugs and diabetes drugs can actually make you sweat more.
What you should do: Talk to your doctor about changing treatment or changing your dose. Don’t make any changes to your medicine doses without checking with your doctor first.
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