Facts About Sweat You Need To Know For A Better Summer Experience | Kidadl


Facts About Sweat You Need To Know For A Better Summer Experience

Arts & Crafts
Learn more
Reading & Writing
Learn more
Math & Logic
Learn more
Sports & Active
Learn more
Music & Dance
Learn more
Social & Community
Learn more
Mindful & Reflective
Learn more
Outdoor & Nature
Learn more
Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

Summer means more outdoor activity, hot climate, and a dehydrated, sweaty body.

Sweating is a normal and even an important part of human life. Everyone sweats, it's just that some perspire more than others.

During the summer season, the sweating level goes up, partly because of the increase in temperature. But there are other reasons that influence how much a person sweats. One of the main concerns people have with sweating is the body odor (BO) that accompany it. In extreme cases, the smell becomes unbearable for others. But did you know that sweat in its purest form is actually odorless? Its only when the liquid reacts with bacteria on our skin does it get the foul-smelling odor. There are other interesting facts on sweat you should know to better deal with it. Learn about them here and share with your friends.

What is sweat made up of?

You'd think that sweat is nothing but water coming out of sweat glands. After all, sweat does look like water. While that's true to some extent, it's not entirely correct.

Sweat is made up of water, but it also contains other chemicals like ammonia, urea, and various salts. The exact composition depends on the gland from where the sweat is coming out. If it's released from the Eccrine glands, then it's mostly water with a mix of salt, protein, urea, and ammonia. Ammonia and urea are byproducts of protein synthesis. They get released via the sweat glands. The glands are located all over the body, but are concentrated in palms, forehead, and soles.

If the sweat is perspiring from the Apocrine glands, then it contains bacteria along with salt and ammonia. These bacteria break down the liquid into scented fatty acids. This results in the foul-smelling body odor. Apocrine glands are located on the armpits, groin, and the breast section. These areas have hair follicles, which make the sweating smell even more intense. On average, the composition of human sweat is 1.2 oz/gal (0.9 gpl) sodium, 0.02 oz/gal (0.2 gpl) potassium, 0.002 oz/gal (0.015 gpl) calcium, and 0.00017 oz/gal (0.0013 gpl) magnesium. There are also trace amounts of zinc, copper, iron, lead, and nickel which are in mg per liter.

Why does it occur?

Perspiration becomes frustrating for some people, since it involves continuously wiping the excess liquid and applying deodorant to smell nice. So it's worth understanding the reason behind sweating.

The main reason humans and some animals sweat is to cool down their body. When there's a rise in internal body temperature because of physical activity or some other reasons, the liquids are released from the sweat glands. Its a natural way for the body to regulate the temperature. Regulation of body temperature is done by the sympathetic nervous system. It is responsible for orchestrating how the body reacts under stressful events. Increase in body heat is one of the stressful events it has to cope with. When there's a rise, the sympathetic nerves release neurotransmitter signals called acetylcholine to the sweat glands, which help release sweat through ducts. This section of the nervous system is autonomous and not under human control. Therefore, you cannot initiate, moderate, or stop perspiration. When the temperature drops to normal level, the chemical reaction stops and so does sweating.

Perspiration is an absolutely normal activity under usual circumstances. In fact, an average human being could sweat about 278 gal (1264 l) every year. Besides being normal, sweating can also be healthy. With sweat, you also lose excessive ammonia, urea, BPA or Bisphenol A, and PCB or Polychlorinated Biphenyls from your body. So it serves as a way to detox. Studies have also confirmed that sweating may also help lose heavy metals from the blood. These metals are found in urine and sweat in higher concentration. Another study has suggested that sweating also helps with bacterial cleansing. The microorganisms that reside on human bodies bind to the sweat and are washed away. So it is safe to say that sweat helps us detox the body and maintain optimal health.

Types Of Sweat

Most people think the activity of sweating refers to a single thing. But we sweat under different circumstances. And this results in different types of sweat.

There are three types of sweat: thermal sweat, emotional sweat, and gustatory sweat. Thermal sweat or thermo-regulatory sweat is the most common type. It occurs when you engage in physical exercise and the body temperature goes up. As you exercise, the body produces heat, which may exceed 1,000 W in some cases. If some of that heat is not dissipated, it will start affecting multiple organs.

The hypothalamus in the brain acts as a thermostat. It has to maintain a temperature of 98.6°F (37°C) for optimal health. Sweating is one of the ways our bodies bring down the heat level. The other way is to increase skin blood flow. In thermal sweat, water is released from eccrine sweat glands which are located throughout the body. That's why you sweat everywhere during workout sessions.

Emotional sweat occurs during emotional stress. For example, perspiration is common when we experience fear. Sweat is released from areas like the forehead, soles, palms, and armpits. Palm and sole sweat is common in childhood, while underarm sweating doesn't occur up until puberty. Unlike thermal sweat, emotional sweat has no relation to body heat. Emotions like fear, anxiety, and pain trigger the same areas of the nervous system that workouts do. This causes our bodies to release acetylcholine which triggers sweating. Emotional sweat is released from both eccrine and apocrine sweat glands.

Gustatory sweat is the third type of sweat that occurs after consuming certain types of foods. When you eat spicy foods, it can trigger sweating from areas like neck, cheeks, forehead, and scalp. It is often accompanied by runny nose and teary eyes. Among other ingredients, pepper makes people sweat in a certain amount. It contains a chemical called capsaicin that binds with receptors of the nervous system. The receptors send signals to the brain which it perceives as heat. So to cool down, the sweat glands release sweat. Ingestion of food also increases metabolism, which can elevate the heat level. Certain beverages like hot tea and coffee, hot soup, and beer also trigger gustatory sweat.

Sweat can be of different types that are released under different circumstances.

Fun Facts About Sweat

Sweat is a natural fluid that both, animals and humans produce. And there are some interesting facts to learn about sweat.

There are between two and four million sweat glands in a human body. Their concentration is higher in hands and soles of feet, where humans sweat the most.

The number of sweat glands do not change as we age. So a toddler has the same number of sweat glands as an adult.

About 360 million people suffer from Hyperhidrosis, a condition which causes sweating for no reason. People with Hyperhidrosis sweat profusely which affects their personal life and health.

Antiperspirants can reduce Hyperhidrosis to some degree and block sweat. Deodorants do not reduce the level of sweat but only mask the odor. Unfortunately, Hyperhidrosis is not curable.

Animals like cats and dogs also experience emotional sweat. Certain parts of their body become wet when they're under stress.

In some parts of Micronesia, sweat is considered a warrior essence. It's an honor for a warrior to drink the sweat of a fellow warrior. Obviously, its not recommended to drink sweat.

Certain foods like garlic, cabbage, and red meat can cause sweat to smell worse. They contain high levels of sulfur that gets mixed with the sweat.

People with poor health have a stronger BO because their immune system acts differently.

Sweat blood is a real phenomenon where blood is released along with sweat. A medical condition called Hematidrosis causes patients to sweat blood from the skin when there's no injury at all. Thankfully, it is a rare condition.

It was considered among researchers that men sweat more than women. They produce more fluid per gland than women do. But recent studies suggest it's because of size and health rather than gender, and women sweat just as much as men do.

Kidadl Team
Written By
Kidadl Team

Read The Disclaimer

Was this article helpful?