Definition, Causes, Symptoms & Diagnosis of Sweating


Sweating or perspiration can be defined as phenomena in which sweat glands excrete a fluid or liquid in mammals. This fluid contains water and some dissolved salts mainly chlorides. In human beings, sweating becomes the means of thermal regulation. Sweating can produce some stinging smell as well which is not primarily smell of fluid, but it is the bacteria present on the skin feeding on sweat. Detailed studies show that sweating is controlled by that part of brain where thermo-sensitive neurons are present. Rise in skin temperature affects the heat regulatory system of body and sweating process decreases the temperature of this system whereas evaporation helps decreasing skin temperature.

A problem relating to this phenomenon is called excessive sweating and in medical terms known as hyperhidrosis which is basically a condition in which one or more parts of body start excreting sweat in such a quantity which is in excess of the required amount.

Causes of Sweating?

Generally speaking, there are two conditions in which sweat glands are stimulated causing perspiration; one is physical heat-up in which sweating occurs throughout the body and other is physical which is limited to a few body parts like palms, forehead, foot, etc. and is caused during emotional stresses. Hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating is an inherited disease and sympathetic nervous system is responsible for this condition which is that part of human nervous system which is not in control of human beings. Sympathetic nervous system has two parts namely sympathetic and parasympathetic. These systems cause excessive sweating by affecting patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety level. This problem can sometimes also arise due to side-effects of some other condition. In that condition, excessive sweating mostly occurs at night and termed as ‘night sweating’.

Symptoms of Sweating

Excessive sweating mostly occurs in hands (palmar) or feet (plantar) and armpits (axillary); this sweating seldom occurs on face. The presentation of this sweat at any time without any identified reason is an indication that the individual is suffering from hyperhidrosis. Normally, excessive sweating does not occur while sleeping, but during normal daily routine it can occur. This condition does not require any major physical activity to happen, but it could start showing up even during very normal routine works like eating, drinking, some desk study, working on computers, some other small chores, etc.

How to Diagnose Sweating?

If these symptoms are visible in someone, he/she is supposed to o to doctor for proper diagnosis instead of conducting self-diagnosis.

Social and Health Problems

As already elaborated, this problem of excessive sweating can occur at any time and without any identified reason, it can affect people negatively specially in professional and social gatherings. This could also result in embarrassment and seriously disturb the patient’s normal life. For example, if a patient is attending a meeting and his/her hand or forehead is producing excessive sweat, even in a normal meeting room, he/she might start losing concentration as well as confidence; or a student with this condition could make his/her answering sheets wet while sitting in an exam which could result in mental stress. Sometimes during parties or social gathering, this could also become a reason of self-embarrassment. The other condition of night sweating could result in restlessness of the patient and this could lead to very serious mental stress. Other health issues relating to this problem could be low concentration of salts in human body or sometimes dehydration.


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