Sweating is the release of liquid from the body's sweat glands. This liquid contains salt. This process is also called perspiration.
Sweating helps your body stay cool. Sweat is commonly found under the arms, on the feet, and on the palms of the hands.
The amount you sweat depends on how many sweat glands you have.
A person is born with about 2 to 4 million sweat glands, which begin to become fully active during puberty. Men's sweat glands tend to be more active.
Sweating is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. This is the part of the nervous system that is not under your control. Sweating is the body's natural way of regulating temperature.
Things that can make you sweat more include:
Heavy sweating may also be a symptom of menopause (also called a "hot flash").
Causes may include:
After sweating a lot, you should:
Contact your health care provider if sweating occurs with:
These symptoms may indicate a problem, such as overactive thyroid or an infection.
Also call your provider if:
Chelimsky T, Chelimsky G. Disorders of the autonomic nervous system. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 108.
Cheshire WP. Autonomic disorders and their management. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 418.
McGrath JA. The structure and function of skin. In: Calonje E, Bren T, Lazar AJ, Billings SD, eds. McKee's Pathology of the Skin. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 1.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 4/26/2019
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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