Sweating during a workout is one of my favorite things. Call me weird, but I love the feeling of some good ol' perspiration dripping down my body and reminding me that I'm working hard as hell to achieve my goals. But I know that, for some people, sweat isn't just a normal bodily function that cools you down. Excessive sweating is an actual medical condition, so it's important to figure out how to know if you're sweating too much, and how you can tell what's considered "normal" and what's worth looking at more closely with a medical professional.
Look, personally, I feel like I'm sweating literal buckets when I'm banging out some burpees or conquering a challenging HIIT circuit at the gym. But I'm not really sure that this amount of sweat is enough to be considered too much — you know what I mean?
Fortunately, Adam Friedman, MD, FAAD, an associate professor of dermatology at George Washington University's School of Medicine and Health Sciences, knows a thing or two when it comes to anything and everything related to perspiration, and he's here to answer any and every question you've ever had about that salty, stinky stuff that comes out of your body when you get (literally) heated.
Dr. Friedman tells Elite Daily that sweating is, generally speaking, a natural process, but excessive sweating is actually a medical condition called hyperhidrosis.
While sweating is "the body's way of cooling and preventing [itself] from overheating," Friedman says, hyperhidrosis is a medical condition that causes your body to sweat much more than what is required to maintain a healthy body temperature. According to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, approximately 15 million Americans are dealing with excessive sweating every day.
What's more, Friedman says, this excessive sweating isn't just limited to one area. It can happen in your palms, feet, underarms, back, or head, and it often interferes with everyday activities. According to Friedman, people with hyperhidrosis sweat approximately four times more than what is needed for cooling the body, which sounds like a lot, because it totally is.
"The exact cause of the medical condition is unknown," Friedman tells Elite Daily. "In some cases, it can be associated with underlying medical conditions and medications, but the most common form has no clear cause, even though we know it can be genetic."
Now, if you dig deeper into excessive sweating, there are actually two different types: primary and secondary hyperhidrosis.
Friedman says primary hyperhidrosis often begins in childhood or adolescence and affects only specific parts of the body, like the hands, feet, underarms, or face. On the other hand, secondary hyperhidrosis is a type of excessive sweating that's either caused by another medical condition, or is a side effect of a medication. "Compared to primary hyperhidrosis, secondary hyperhidrosis usually begins in adulthood, affects the entire body (as opposed to a localized areas), and often presents symptoms during sleep," Friedman tells Elite Daily.
There's a pretty big variety of medical conditions that can cause excessive sweating, including menopause and diabetes, according to Mayo Clinic. As far as medications that can cause secondary hyperhidrosis, Friedman recommends watching out for high blood pressure pills, as well as any medications you might be prescribed for neurological diseases like epilepsy. If you think one of these factors might be causing you to over-sweat, be sure to talk to your doctor so you can track your symptoms and figure out what the next step is.
Now, in terms of how these different conditions can affect people on an everyday basis, Friedman tells Elite Daily that "excessive sweating can have a serious impact on a person’s quality of life, career choices, relationships, and overall well-being." In other words, this condition can seriously mess with people's lives and well-being, far beyond some slightly embarrassing pit stains or a bit of awkward butt sweat at the gym.
But if you're a bit confused (ahem, like me) as to how you can tell whether or not your sweat is considered "excessive," Dr. Friedman says you can use an online sweat assessment tool to find out exactly where you stand perspiration-wise.
Once you figure out if your sweat is "normal" or not, you don't have to suffer in silence. Friedman says there are plenty of over-the-counter and prescription treatments available for hyperhidrosis.
He tells Elite Daily that, if you find you're avoiding certain activities, changing your clothes more than twice a day, or hiding sweat marks by wearing multiple layers of clothing regardless of the climate you live in and activity level, then you should definitely consider seeing a dermatologist to get your individual condition assessed.
The fact is, because each person is different, there is no “cure-all” for the condition, Friedman says. When it comes down to it, the best course of action is to make an appointment with your dermatologist to find the right treatment options for your specific symptoms.