Why Do We Sweat?

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Why Do We Sweat?

Everyone sweats- that’s just a fact. From that fact, one simple question presents itself. Why do we sweat? The fact of the matter is we need sweat. It is a natural and necessary human bodily function. It’s important, therefore, that we do not try to stop our body from sweating. Of course, there are ways to ensure that your sweat doesn’t smell bad or stain shirts, but stopping sweat should not be the goal. Before we dive into the different types of sweating, however, we must first answer that question- why do we sweat?

What is the Purpose of Sweating?

As mentioned above, sweating has a purpose and its purpose is important for our wellbeing. The main purpose of sweating is to lower our body temperature. A human body overheating can be very dangerous and have serious consequences, so our body’s natural ability to cool itself down is key. So how does it work? Our body is covered, on average, with 3 million sweat glands. Sweat glands are most concentrated and present on our forehead, armpits, the palms of our hands, and the soles of our feet. When our body becomes overheated for a number of different reasons, these sweat glands activate and release a saltwater liquid. As the water in the sweat evaporates into a gas, the surface of the skin cools. The evaporation part of this process is essential for cooling, so it actually isn’t helpful when the sweat just drips off of your body.

There are two variations of sweat glands that make up these 3 million glands- eccrine glands and apocrine glands. Eccrine glands are those responsible for the normal sweating that occurs to cool your body down. Apocrine glands, on the other hand, are the “scent” glands that you may associate with body odor and even pit stains. These sweat glands serve another purpose in addition to just cooling down your body. They also give off a smell that is used in animals to attract other males or females. Eccrine glands and apocrine glands both cause sweat but are often triggered by different things.

What Causes Sweating?

There are many different reasons behind what causes sweating and, as mentioned above, the two different sweat glands are actually activated from different things.

Eccrine Glands
Eccrine glands are activated by the more typical or obvious means that you may think of, like exercise and a high outdoor temperature. When we exercise, our body heat naturally rises so sweating is our body’s way of naturally counteracting this process and cooling us down. Similarly, in high temperatures, our body produces sweat as a way to make sure our bodies do not overheat. That is why it is essential in both of these instances to drink ample amounts of water. It is crucial to provide our body with enough water to allow the natural sweating process to occur.

Apocrine Glands
Apocrine glands, on the other hand, usually come alive more because of emotions like stress, fear, anxiety, anger, and embarrassment. So in this case, giving a speech in public or going on a first date is more likely the reason for your sweat than anything else. If you have ever started to sweat when you are angry and nervous, then that was most likely due to your apocrine glands activating in response to your body.

In addition to these reasons, different foods and drinks can also trigger our natural sweating process. Spicy foods, caffeinated drinks, and alcohol are often linked to a type of sweating known as gustatory sweating. Whatever the reason may be, sweating is just your body’s natural way of regulating itself, and it is a good thing!

Benefits of Sweating

As you can see, the benefits of sweating are plentiful. Cooling down your body can save you from a lot of potential harm, and it’s crucial that our body is able to complete this natural process. Ensuring that you drink lots of water is an important part of allowing our self-regulating system to stay active and healthy. Additionally, sweating acts as a natural attractant to the opposite sex. That means, if you have clean, healthy sweat, you may not even need the right cologne or perfume in order to attract someone! At the end of the day, our bodies need sweat and it is a truly incredible natural process of the human body.

While sweating is a crucial part of our body’s natural regulating systems, there is such a thing as sweating excessively. If you are experiencing excessive sweating, you may have a condition known as hyperhidrosis. If you would like to learn more about treatment options for excessive sweating, and how The Center for Hyperhidrosis can help contact us today!

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