Why People Sweat

Sweating is the body’s method of cooling itself. Humans sweat to maintain a healthy normal body temperature. The water and salt solution that sits on the surface of the skin, evaporates away, causing the body to cool. So sweating is good and necessary. Sweating is our body’s radiator.

Evaporation, going from a liquid to a vapor state, is a cooling process. It takes 540 calories to turn a gram of water into a gram of vapor. That heat has to come from somewhere. It comes from the person’s body. Adults have between three million and four million sweat glands. This evaporation takes place faster if the air is dry and cool. It helps if there is a breeze. That’s why you see people fanning themselves in hot, “sticky” situations.

People sweat mostly due to physical exertion. But embarrassment, anger, or stress, can also cause a person to sweat.

Excessive sweating is termed “hyperhidrosis”, and under sweating is called

“anhidrosis.”  If a person does not sweat enough, the core temperature of the body goes too high.  As a rule, men sweat more than women. Keep in mind that women do not really “sweat.”  Men sweat. Women gleam, or glow, or perspire!

Sunstroke, sometimes called heat prostration or hyperthermia, is an elevated body temperature. A body temperature above 104 degrees can be dangerous. Fevers can cause these extremely high temperatures, but that is quite different than hypothermia. The body is producing or absorbing more heat than it can get rid of.  Overexertion, adverse drug reaction, and prolonged exposure to high heat and humidity can result in overheating the body. The elderly are especially prone. So are workers who wear protective clothing, such as fire fighters, bomb squad personnel, and haz-mat employees.

The astronauts that walked on the moon, a total of twelve Americans, had a space suit fitted with 300 feet of small tubes that carried chilled water. The Liquid Cooling Garment removed the excess heat as the water circulated around the astronaut’s entire body.

On June 7, 1984 the Gillette Company brought out their line of “Dry Idea” antiperspirants  in which famous personalities would mention three “nevers” in their profession. The third “never” was always “Never let them see you sweat”.   Fashion designer Donna Karan, actress Lauren Hutton, and comedian Elaine Boosler each had a television ad.

The viewer favorite was Dan Reeves, head coach of the Denver Broncos. His three “nevers” for a winning coach were: “Never let the press pick your starting quarterback. Never take a last-place team lightly. And really, no matter what the score, never let ’em see you sweat.”


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