7 Ways To Tell If You’re Sweating Too Much

by JR Thorpe
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Sweat is the body’s natural reaction to rising temperatures; as warm-blooded creatures, we excrete water through our pores to attempt to prevent overheating. However, there’s proportional sweating, where your body releases enough sweat to cool your body down in an uncomfortable situation, and sweating too much. When that happens, it’s called hyperhidrosis — and it can be caused by many different things, including thyroid issues, hormonal fluctuation during your menstrual cycle, anxiety and various medications, according to the Mayo Clinic. But what counts as “too much” sweat?

All of us have varied sweating responses, depending on what we’ve been doing. After an intense gym session, for instance, a slick of sweat is extremely common (and a good reason to hit the showers ASAP). However, too much sweat that doesn’t correspond to your own activity or environment can be a signal of an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed — and it can be annoying to manage in its own right. Sweat has a bad rap, despite being a completely normal bodily response, and excessive sweating can make people feel anxious about the judgements of others in social areas. Here’s how to detect if your sweat levels happen to be over-the-top and warrant a visit to the doc.


You Sweat Regardless Of Environment

Sweat is meant to be reactive; the hotter the temperature or the more intense our body is working, the more we'll sweat. However, excessive sweating doesn’t follow those rules, and will appear regardless of what’s happening to your body, without much prompting — or it will be disproportionate, causing a flood of sweat in response to a mild stimulus.

It’s important to note that sweat that’s prompted by stress is perfectly natural; many of us sweat when we’re anxious. That in itself isn’t a cause for concern, but feeling suddenly soaking when things aren’t all that alarming is a signal that something in your sweating mechanism is going haywire.


You Sweat Only In Certain Areas

Hyperhidrosis, according to the Mayo Clinic, is likely to turn up in specific areas where sweat glands cluster on the body. Excessive sweating is most common on your palms, the soles of your feet, your underarms and your face. Hyperhidrosis also tends to occur on both sides of the body at once rather than on one side.


You're Sweating Excessively At Night

The National Health Service points out that unexplained night sweats, where you break out in a sweat in the night hours, can be a signal that your sweating has gone a bit askew. This isn’t the same as sweating in hot temperatures on a summer night; it’s waking up in cold sweats or discovering that you’ve soaked the sheets.


It Gets In The Way Of Daily Activities

Some of the seriousness of hyperhidrosis is measured individually in how it interferes with daily life. Do you sweat too much to drive because you can’t grip the steering wheel properly sometimes? Do you avoid dance classes or social events because of worries about sudden clamminess? Have you identified certain “triggers” that make you sweat excessively, or are you constantly on the alert for any that might pop up? These are all signs that your sweating levels are causing you discomfort and merit a visit to the doctor.


It Lasts For More Than 6 Months

Hyperhidrosis can be short-term when it’s caused by specific things, like an infection or a limited course of medication, but if it lasts for a long time, it’s defined as a potential medical issue. Hyperhidrosis is separated into two categories, primary and secondary. Secondary hyperhidrosis is caused by something identifiable, like a medication, while primary hyperhidrosis appears without any apparent reason. The primary kind of hyperhidrosis is often genetic, and that it tends to occur because the body’s nerve signals to sweat glands get over-excited. Primary hyperhidrosis in particular will stick around for a while, but your doctor can help you figure out ways to manage it.


Nothing Seems To Help

Many of us have different ways of coping with sweating, and those with hyperhidrosis will have an entire arsenal of methods for attempting to conceal or mediate their perspiration. But if you’ve tried everything — wearing linen and light fabrics, avoiding alcohol and spicy food, showers, every deodorant on the market — and the sweating doesn’t seem to reduce its intensity, it’s defined as excessive.


It Affects Your Mental Health

Excessive sweating comes with shame and awkwardness, and doctors note that it can induce depressive symptoms and social withdrawal because it tends to make social situations and the workplace fraught with worry. If this is the case, it’s definitely time to see a doctor. And there’s good news.

Hyperhidrosis can have many different treatments. Sweat glands can be injected with botox to induce paralysis, or treated with a mild electric current. So there’s hope — and you may not need to scour the deodorant aisle for triple-strength varieties again.