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What Happens If You Don't Sweat Enough or At All

By Kaleigh Fasanella

What if you straight-up couldn’t sweat — even when your body really needed to? Like, when you’re walking your dog down the street during a heatwave, hanging out in the park on a super sunny day, or even just sitting on your couch at home. These sweaty instances mean your body is trying to cool down, but for some folks, it’s not that simple. Some people struggle with not perspiring enough.

“Sweating is controlled by our nervous system and is like a natural air conditioner that serves as a valuable tool to prevent overheating,” says Washington, D.C.-based dermatologist, Adam Friedman.

“Decreased sweating or anhidrosis, which is when someone doesn’t sweat at all, can be dangerous and lead to overheating, heatstroke, and organ damage — even failure if severe,” he explains. Friedman says that the inability to sweat enough can be associated with a wide range of “clinical scenarios,” including medical conditions such as nerve disorders, and drug use. For instance, a few medications that can affect one’s ability to perspire as much as your body needs are morphine, methazolamide, benzhexol, and botox.

If you are concerned with the rate or intensity at which you sweat, there are some common symptoms associated with decreased sweating and anhidrosis to look out for.

According to Sejal Shah, a New York City-based dermatologist and founder of Smarter Skin Dermatology, the tell-tale signs include dizziness, weakness, muscle cramps, intense flushing, and feeling overheated. And then, obviously, there’s the absence of sweat. “If you’ve noticed a drop in your sweating, it’s best to see a doctor right away to ensure you don’t have an underlying medical issue,” urges Shah. “And if it turns out you don’t, then it’s important to reduce the risk of overheating,” she adds.

How, exactly, does one keep from overheating? You’ll know if you’re overheating if you start to feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, or if you develop a heat rash or get red. Shah says there are a few different things you can do. “When it’s hot out, I suggest wearing loose, lightweight clothing, staying in a cooler environment, and not overexerting yourself,” she says. “Make sure you’re staying hydrated, and cool the body down with cold compresses whenever you feel necessary.”

While sweating certainly isn’t always comfortable or convenient, it is fundamental for our bodies to be able to function properly. So, if you’ve noticed any changes in the amount you’re sweating, or if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above — try to see a doctor to determine what’s going on.

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