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The Science and Importance of Perspiration

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For some people, sweating is an uncomfortable aspect of exercise or physical activity. It can be both irritating and inspiring at the same time because of the amount of energy being used. Everyone has a different perspiration level, and it is common to see certain people sweating profusely at the slightest hint of movement. Others might remain a lot dryer through heavier workout sessions. No matter how much you perspire, the reasons behind the response are essential to understanding why it is necessary and how it helps you.

Why Do You Perspire?

Perspiration is a natural function that your body performs when you are experiencing stress or anxiety. The stress can be from external sources, such as exercising. Or, it can come from internal worrying and nervousness. Either way, the results are similar as your skin's sweat glands begin to work to quickly resolve the issue. Two sweat glands are called into action during perspiration: eccrine glands and apocrine glands. Eccrine glands work throughout most of the areas of your body. They open up directly to the surface of your skin and secrete fluids that are designed to cool your body and lower its overall temperature. When the fluids secreted by the eccrine glands are evaporated, a natural reduction of heat occurs. That fluid is also known as perspiration and is actually a combination of mainly water and salt. Small amounts of electrolytes are also present in perspiration to ensure the balance of fluids in your body. Apocrine glands are located in areas where follicles are found, including your scalp and armpits. They work differently than the eccrine glands in a number of ways. First, apocrine glands secrete a type of fatty sweat that goes directly into the gland's tubule itself. In times of emotional stress, the tubule's walls contract, which pushes the sweat toward the surface of your skin. Once the sweat reaches the skin's surface, bacteria begins to mix with it; breaking the sweat down further. The meeting of apocrine sweat and bacteria often causes the odors that are commonly associated with the perspiration process. Although many people suffer from excessive sweating, most of the annoyance is based on the distinct odor they detect while perspiring.

When to be Concerned

Perspiration is a perfectly healthy response that should not alarm you in any way. When you are exercising or out in hot weather, be careful to replenish the fluids lost through perspiration by drinking water and/or a sports drink with electrolytes. If you find that you are perspiring more than normal, you might have a condition called hyperhidrosis. Not sweating enough, or a significant decrease in perspiration, could be diagnosed as anhidrosis. A noticeable change in body odor can be a symptom of other medical problems. In all of the above circumstances, it is recommended that you consult with your physician to learn more about the treatment options available for your specific situation.


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