Everyone sweats: both purposefully, and of course, when you'd really just rather not. For example, maybe you love the feeling of sweat cascading down your forehead during a challenging workout, but absolutely hate perspiring while you're commuting on an uncomfortably humid subway car. Whether you welcome those familiar sweat droplets or cringe at the mere thought of perspiration, there's no denying that sweating is good for you, and without this admittedly smelly bodily function, you simply wouldn't be able to get through the day.
Seriously though, as annoying as it may be to discover giant stains under your arms or constantly wipe away that mustache of sweat on your upper lip during a workout, Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, a TV health expert and clinical assistant professor at the University of Tennessee School of Medicine, tells Elite Daily that the primary function of sweat is to help you cool down. Without it, she explains, your body would begin to overheat in seriously uncomfortable, and even potentially dangerous ways. So basically, the main benefit of sweat is to cool you down, kind of like a trusty little AC unit that's constantly running inside your body and protecting you from the dangers of overheating.
Now, you've probably heard or read something about how sweating ~releases toxins~ from your body — but is there any actual truth to that? According to Gillespie, it's not completely inaccurate: "When you sweat, you release salt in the form of sodium and chloride," she tells Elite Daily over email. "You also can release a small amount of other elements, including things like mercury and lead."
Gillespie notes that there's not really a lot of solid evidence to support the whole toxin-releasing aspect of sweat, and scientists are still learning more about it. Having said that, a 2012 review of research on the subject, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, suggests that sweat might indeed help to rid your body of certain toxins. According to the review's conclusion, "sweating offers potential and deserves consideration, to assist with removal of toxic elements from the body," particularly in people living with chronic health conditions. Again, there definitely needs to be more research on the subject, but it's pretty cool to think your body naturally knows how to shed the stuff it doesn't need, even if it does so in a sort of smelly, awkward way.
But even though sweat is a necessary function in your body, it's still possible to sweat too much, and in fact, there's a name for that: The condition is known as hyperhidrosis, and according to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, approximately 15 million Americans are dealing with excessive sweating every day. "Hyperhidrosis is a very uncomfortable condition in which one or more parts of the body sweat uncontrollably, without releasing any body heat," Gillespie tells Elite Daily. "It seems to be hormonally related, and has nothing to do with body temperature, and has no physiologic benefit that we know [of]."
If you think you might have hyperhidrosis, you can use an online sweat assessment tool to find out exactly where you and your perspiration levels stand. And if you discover you are excessively sweating, rest assured there are plenty of over-the-counter and prescription treatments for the condition, all of which your doctor can teach you more about during a consultation.