GLOW­ING with vi­tal­ity

WITH SUM­MER COM­ING, DON’T SWEAT THE SWEATY STUFF

New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - HEALTH& FAMILY -

Sweat­ing is a nec­es­sary bod­ily func­tion – we’d be in trou­ble with­out it. But is your sweat­ing nor­mal? THE TRUTH ABOUT SWEAT

• There’s one very good rea­son you sweat – to cool your body. Sweat­ing is reg­u­lated by the body’s ner­vous sys­tem. When you get hot or stressed, your ner­vous sys­tem sends sig­nals to your sweat glands, in­struct­ing them to re­lease a salty liq­uid onto the skin. As this liq­uid evap­o­rates on your skin, it cools the body.

• We each have be­tween two and four mil­lion sweat glands. The high­est con­cen­tra­tion of th­ese glands is on the palms and the soles of the feet. Not sur­pris­ingly, we also have a lot of glands in our armpits.

• Sweat is odour­less. But when it mixes with bac­te­ria on the skin, the pro­teins it con­tains are bro­ken down, emit­ting that pun­gent smell.

• How much you sweat is a very in­di­vid­ual thing. Some peo­ple might sweat only half a litre of fluid dur­ing an hour of in­tense ac­tiv­ity, while oth­ers could lose be­tween three and four litres. Both are in the nor­mal range.

• How fit you are can de­ter­mine how and where you sweat. Peo­ple who are out of shape tend to sweat in the cen­tre of their body, such as the mid­dle of their chest or back. Those who sweat evenly across their body are more likely to be quite fit.

• Women sweat less than men. This is be­cause they not only have fewer sweat glands, but also be­cause they tend to have less mus­cle mass, so they pro­duce less heat and there­fore need to sweat less.

• How­ever, dur­ing menopause, women may sweat more than nor­mal. This is due to chang­ing lev­els of hor­mones. You may also feel very hot but not ac­tu­ally sweat.

• Skin dis­eases such as pso­ri­a­sis or heat rash can also in­ter­fere with the abil­ity of sweat glands to func­tion prop­erly.

• Some peo­ple sweat ex­ces­sively. This con­di­tion is known is hy­per­hidro­sis and it causes the body to sweat more than is needed, thanks to over­ac­tive sweat glands. It can lead to excessive sweat­ing from the palms, soles, face and un­der­arms.

• Some peo­ple sweat ex­ces­sively for no ob­vi­ous rea­son. This is known as pri­mary hy­per­hidro­sis.

• Excessive sweat­ing that can be at­trib­uted to an un­der­ly­ing med­i­cal con­di­tion is known as sec­ondary hy­per­hidro­sis. This can be caused by di­a­betic hy­po­gly­caemia, heart at­tack, leukaemia, en­do­cardi­tis (an in­fec­tion of the lin­ing of the heart), HIV/Aids, anx­i­ety dis­or­der, non- Hodgkin lym­phoma and

hy­per­thy­roidism (over­ac­tive thy­roid).

• If some­one starts sweat­ing pro­fusely for no ob­vi­ous rea­son and also has chest pain, chills, light-head­ed­ness, nau­sea or a high tem­per­a­ture, get med­i­cal help im­me­di­ately.

• If you don’t sweat when you are hot, it could be a sign of a med­i­cal dis­or­der such as heat stroke, which oc­curs af­ter pro­longed ex­po­sure to high tem­per­a­tures and a lack of hy­dra­tion. It can be very se­ri­ous if you don’t get treat­ment.

• Sweat­ing too lit­tle is called an­hidro­sis. It can lead to your body over­heat­ing and be­ing un­able to cool down, which can be life-threat­en­ing.

• You may not sweat very much or even at all if you have nerve dam­age caused by di­a­betes, al­co­holism, Parkin­son’s dis­ease or trauma to the body.

• There’s a lot of de­bate over whether you can sweat tox­ins out of your body. Be­cause tests on sweat have shown tiny amounts of tox­ins such as heavy met­als and BPA (found in plas­tics), there’s been a the­ory that sweat­ing is an ef­fec­tive way of re­mov­ing th­ese sub­stances from your body. In fact, tox­ins are re­moved via urine af­ter be­ing pro­cessed by the kid­neys and liver, and the amount that ex­its through sweat is mi­nus­cule.

• Some peo­ple think that sweat­ing will help them lose weight. While it’s true that you shed a lit­tle weight when you sweat, you are in fact los­ing wa­ter and you’ll re­gain that weight as soon as you re­hy­drate. Any real weight loss that oc­curs when you sweat hap­pens be­cause of what you are do­ing that makes you sweat – such as in­tense ex­er­cise that burns calo­ries.

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