Sweating Is More Than A Cooling Mechanism
We are currently living in a world engulfed by extreme weather conditions where the human body mechanism needs to readjust constantly to be able to cope. There are two extremes in this case; the weather is either too hot or too cold. Our bodies are made to adjust to both conditions using the same kind of mechanism.
Actually, the science used in many machines which use water to cool off is the same science that our bodies use. Water is used by the body for many purposes but one of the main purposes is to maintain body temperature.
One of the ways the body system maintains optimum body temperature is through sweating. Sweating is a process that occurs when the body loses water through the skin. By expelling water through the skin, heat is lost as sweat evaporates from the skin. While this may be repulsive to some people, it is a very important part of our bodily system and plays a crucial role in the regulating our body.
Sweating is the body's most effective way of dispersing heat and cooling off. Whenever sweat evaporates from skin pores, the heat in the body is reduced.
So what are the circumstances that lead to sweating? The first is, of course, production of body heat and this often arises during exercise. When a person is engaged in exercise, the heat produced by the muscles is usually more than the heat released by the body. Because the body is usually making more heat than it can maintain during exercise, it has to find other ways of releasing the heat.
It is important to always have enough fluid in the body. Having enough fluid in the body enables the body to carry out functions effectively. An average person should have approximately 55 to 65% of fluid in his system. Lack of enough body fluids affects the cardiovascular system and its ability to control body temperature, especially through sweating. After extreme sweating it is advisable to replace lost fluids.
Apart from cooling off the body, sweating has other functions. Skin specialists advise people to ensure that they oil their skin often to trap moisture and keep skin moist. Sweating is another way through which the skin is kept moist naturally.
The New Scientist Magazine (10 November 2001) reported that sweat has among its components a natural antibiotic known as dermicidin. Dermicidin is believed to destroy bacteria around the skin.
Sweating is also a way of getting rid of toxins from the body. A good way to ascertain the amount of toxins in your body is by the smell of your sweat. The more intense the odor exuded, the more toxins you have in your body. People who smoke cigarettes or drink excessive alcohol exude a smelly scent when they sweat and this is related to the fact that alcohol and cigarettes contain toxic compounds. People who eat food with strong smells such as garlic are also likely to produce pungent odors.
Sweat is produced by organs known as sweat glands. Sweat glands are evenly distributed throughout the body. An average person has approximately 2.6 million sweat glands and they are located in the layer of skin known as the dermis.
There are two types of sweat glands, the eccrine and apocrine. The eccrines glands are more common and are the major sweat glands of the human body, found in virtually all skin.[ Although the eccrines are found all over the body they are especially numerous on the palms of hands, on the soles of the feet and on the forehead. The apocrine glands are mostly located on the armpits and genital and anal areas. The difference between the two glands is that eccrine glands are smaller and they are active from the time of birth, sweat produced by eccrine glands is also free of fatty acids and proteins. The apocrine glands only become active when one gets to the age of puberty. The back has the least concentrated area of sweat glands while the bottom of the feet has the most concentrated area of sweat glands.
Sweating takes place when sweat glands are stimulated by nerves, hot temperatures or exercise. After stimulation the cells secrete a fluid that is mostly comprised of water with a high concentration of sodium chloride. The secreted fluid usually comes from blood vessels found in the dermis.
It is, important to note that the humidity of the air around you affects your sweating mechanism. If the air around you contains water vapor, it may already be too saturated to take any more moisture and this hampers the body's cooling process.
A dry air environment is the best condition for sweating because fluid on skin easily evaporates into the air and leaves sodium chloride on the skin. After sweating, skin tastes salty because of the residue of sodium chloride left on the surface of the skin.
Sweating is not the only way through which the body loses heat. Heat is, sometimes, radiated directly from skin into the air while respiratory surfaces of the lungs also assist in dispelling body heat.
The process of sweat production is a clear indication that sweating is indeed a healthy mechanism for the human body. Lack of sweat is a clear sign that something could be wrong with your body and its functions. In fact, the fitter you are the more easily you should sweat, meaning you sweat sooner and more profusely.
The tendency to sweat is affected by various factors. Gender is one factor, as women are known to have more sweat glands than men. While men have fewer sweat glands than women, their glands are said to be more active in sweating that their female counterparts. The difference is the activity of sweat glands in men and women is irrespective of body size. According to the new scientist June 2002 edition, men lose about 250 g of sweat per hour, which is 70 g more than that of the women.
There is a limit to the amount of sweat that one can produce, depending on the environment. A person who is not accustomed to hot climate may produce about one liter of sweat. In the case of extremely hot temperatures such as the high temperatures experienced in the American desert, one can easily produce about two to three liters of sweat in one hour.
Sweating may be an indication of one's well being as far as health is concerned. Unfortunately, sweating may turn out to be someone's worst nightmare. There are a number of people in society who suffer on an ongoing basis from the effects of bad odor caused by sweating.
People that suffer from the effects caused by excessive sweating need to understand that the bad odor does not come as a result of sweating. Sweat does not have any odor. The odor is produced as a result of the sweat combining with bacteria found on the surface of the skin. The solution for curing a bad odor problem is not by attempting to stop sweating, but rather by reducing the quantity of bacteria on the skin.
Reducing bacteria on the skin can be accomplished effectively by using an antibacterial soap. People who perspire a lot are also advised to take showers instead of baths. While bathing in a bath tub, you are more likely to soak in your own bacteria as opposed to washing it off. Showering helps you rinse off the bacteria after you have washed it off with the antibacterial soap.
As noted in this article, sweating involves a lot more than cooling one's body off. The sweating mechanism is an integral part of bodily functions. Sweating not only maintains correct body temperature but also cleans up the system.