Sweating may not be the most pleasant bodily function, but it’s very important to your health.
Any number of things can elevate the body’s internal temperature and cause you to sweat, including foods, exercise, fever and warm temperatures.
“Sweating is your body’s natural response to these triggers,” says Tidelands Health family medicine physician Dr. Sean Nguyen, who practices at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at The Market Common. “If you didn’t sweat, your body wouldn’t be able to maintain its optimum core temperature.”
Common triggers that can activate your sweat glands include:
• Spicy foods
• Alcohol or caffeine
• High temperatures
• Some medications
Here are seven intriguing facts about perspiration:
1. Certain foods can affect the smell of your sweat
Eating certain foods such as cabbage, garlic and onions can affect the smell of sweat. The phenomenon can occur when sweat interacts with the compounds created by your body while it’s breaking down those foods.
2. Babies sweat, too
Even though they may not be running and playing just yet, babies can sweat, too. However, it may not be as noticeable because they’re still developing sweat glands.
3. Some parts of your body sweat more than others
Poorly ventilated areas of your body such as under the breasts, the armpits and groin area may produce more sweat than others. You might also find your palms and feet sweat more than other parts of your body, too. Genetics can play a part in how much you perspire and where you seem to sweat the most.
4. The smell of your sweat can change with age
When puberty hits, the smell of perspiration becomes more noticeable because of new hormones produced by the body. The smell may change as you age because of fluctuating hormone levels, which affect body odor. Additionally, your body becomes less able to cope with heat as you age and the sweat glands become less effective at cooling, which can alter the smell of sweat.
5. There’s a difference between antiperspirants and deodorants
Sweating can be controlled by using an antiperspirant, which works to block the production of sweat. To tame unpleasant body odor, the go-to choice is deodorant. Thankfully, if you’re trying to address both, there are many products that serve as both an antiperspirant and deodorant.
Ever wonder why your sweat leaves yellow stains on your white T-shirts? It’s caused by a chemical reaction involving sweat and antiperspirant.
6. Your body has different types of sweat glands
Your body contains a roadmap of sweat glands. The two most common are eccrine glands and apocrine glands. The eccrine glands are mainly on the palms, feet, forehead and armpits. They secrete fluid that contains salt, protein, urea and ammonia. The apocrine glands are also found in the armpits, but also in the groin and breast area. Because they are situated near hair follicles, these glands tend to produce more odor.
7. Some people sweat more than others
There are many reasons why one person might sweat more than another. For example, some people simply have more sweat glands, which can lead to more perspiration. Higher body fat can also cause increased sweating because fat retains more heat, which means the body must work harder to regulate its temperature. Some people also have a condition known as hyperhidrosis that causes excessive sweating.
“It’s important to talk to your doctor if you notice any new symptoms such as excessive sweating that may not be normal for you,” says Dr. Nguyen. “Significant changes could indicate a change in your health status, which is something that we will want to examine.”