When you sweat, your clothes are wet, you feel like you smell, and you just want to find the nearest shower. But it is really important to understand that sweat is a good thing. It keeps your body cool and prevents you from overheating in the hotter months or during exercise. On the other hand, some people may ask, “why don’t I sweat?” Well, an average person has around 2 to 4 million sweat glands on their skin. Men have a few less than women. Although, men usually tend to sweat more easily than women.
Sweating depends on a few different factors like how many sweat glands you were born with, your exercise level, and the temperature where you are. This article goes into more details on these factors and what you should do if you do not sweat.
Why Don’t I Sweat?
The medical term for not sweating is Anhidrosis. Anhidrosis means you cannot sweat for one reason or another. This can be serious because the body has lost the ability to keep itself cool. In severe cases, heatstroke can set in and if left untreated can lead to death.
One thing to remember, if you are in the heat or exercising and not yet sweating, it could just mean that your body has not reached that point yet. Sweating only occurs when your body is at the right temperature to trigger the sweat glands or when you are exercising at an increased intensity.
If it is hot or you are exercising and you don’t sweat, this could be a very serious sign of dehydration. Or vice-versa. Sweating too much can dehydrate you, so if you were sweating and stopped you are not taking in enough fluids.
If you suffer from chronic lack of sweating, it could be due to an underlying medical condition.
Conditions that Lead to Lack of Sweat
If you are not sweating when hot or exercising, you need to see a doctor to see if you can find the underlying cause. These can sometimes be hard to find. Here are a few of the conditions that lead to lack of sweating:
1. Sjögren’s Syndrome
People with this autoimmune disease may not sweat because the body destroys the sweat glands or they can become blocked with cells from the immune system. If you notice lack of sweating, dry eyes, and mouth ask your doctor for testing for Sjögren’s.
2. Thyroid Disease
When you have low thyroid function, your body is less able to respond to extreme temperatures. It may be hot outside and you feel cold and shiver, instead of producing sweat.
3. Nerve Dysfunction
A number of diseases can cause a condition called dysautonomia. In this condition the nerves do not function as they should. They can become overactive, underactive, or react at the wrong time. In regards to sweating, people with nerve dysfunction may break out in sweat in the cold weather and/or fail to sweat at all in hot weather. Some of the diseases this happens with aremultiple sclerosis, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and Parkinson’s disease. It can also happen with traumatic brain injury patients.
4. Hypothalamus Malfunction
The hypothalamus in the brain helps to regulate many body functions like water balance, body temperature, and response to stress. If this organ is not functioning properly, you may not sweat in response to heat or exercise. The conditions that cause this are tumor, head injury, genetic conditions, and lack of hormones from the gland.
5. Skin Burns
Severe third degree burns that penetrate and damage all the layers of skin tissue can permanently damage the sweat glands. These severe burns are often treated with skin grafts from other sources, which are less likely to respond to heat.
Certain drugs used for Parkinson’s, motion sickness, anti-histamines, and abdominal spasms also reduce the body’s ability to sweat. This is because these drugs block the chemicals that trigger sweating.
Accompanying Symptoms You Might Experience
If you are wondering, “Why don’t I sweat,” you also need to look at other symptoms of Anhidrosis. Accompanying symptoms can include:
- Not sweating at all or only a little in certain areas of the body
- Feeling flushed
- Feeling dizzy in the heat or during exercise
- Feeling very weak
- Muscle cramping
The symptoms of anhidrosis can happen in just one area of your body or all over your body. You may also experience it in a few scattered areas. If you do have sweating in a small area, you may sweat more than normal in just that little area.
When You Should See a Doctor
It is very important to understand how serious lack of sweating can be to your health. When you do not sweat, your body cannot keep itself cool. This can lead to cramping, heat exhaustion and in extreme cases, heatstroke.
If you have any of the symptoms above, you need to discuss this with your doctor. There are treatments and precautions you need to take when your body gets hot. Get immediate medical attention if you cannot sweat and develop the following symptoms when it is hot or during exercise:
- Goosebumps when it is hot
- Fast heart rate
- Feel dizzy
- Muscle weakness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
How Is Anhidrosis Treated?
There are a few different ways to treat anhidrosis. It first depends on treating the underlying cause and then teaching preventative measures for dehydration and heat illness. Here are some of the treatments:
Medication Related Cases
If lack of sweating is due to a side-effect of a medication, the doctor may choose to lower the dosage or try a different medication. Never stop taking a medication or change your dosage without speaking to your doctor first.
Heat Related Illness
If you do not have the ability to sweat, you need to take the steps to cool your body down manually. Do the following if you begin to feel ill in the heat:
1. Cramping Due To Heat and Heat Exhaustion
- Get into shade or a cool building
- Drink electrolyte replacement drinks or water in a last resort
- Place wet towels on the skin
- Rest and avoid activity
This is serious and can be fatal. Call 9-1-1 and do the following while waiting on the ambulance:
- Get inside a cool building
- Spray the patient down with water, lay wet towels on the skin and fan with air
- If they are conscious, have them sip water or an electrolyte drink