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Hot and humid? No sweat at all!

Though better known as a cosmetic tool used to smooth out wrinkles, Botox is effective in blocking the chemical responsible for stimulating the sweat glands within 48 hours of injecting, writes Sanchita Sharma.
Hindustan Times | By Sanchita Sharma
UPDATED ON JUL 05, 2008 09:33 PM IST

Everybody does it, some more than others. Sweating may be a natural function that cools the body in response to changes in temperature, emotions or physical activity, but it can become a social embarrassment if your sweat glands decide to go on an overdrive. Whether you glisten with perspiration or go around soaked to the skin with stinky sweat depends on several factors such as hormonal imbalances, an overactive thyroid gland, bad diet and seven certain medications.

Sure, we all know that if the body doesn’t sweat, it is at risk of overheating and collapsing from heatstroke. But while no one wants zero sweat, many may want to control excessive sweating, especially now when the weather is hot and humid and perfect for bacterial growth that is responsible for body odour.

Frequent bathing and thorough drying prevents odour- and infection-causing bacteria and fungi from growing in the damp areas of the body, such as the armpits. Treatments include using antiperspirants, oral medications such as anti-cholinergic drugs available on prescription, Botox injections, an electrical treatment known as ‘tap-water iontophoresis’, and surgery.

If your sweat problem is transient and limited to the three months of monsoons, antiperspirants with 10 to 15 per cent aluminum chloride are all that’s needed to block sweat ducts in the problem areas such as the underarms, back, hands and feet. Anti-cholinergic drugs block the action of the chemical that stimulates the sweat glands and help control the sweating within two weeks. Though better known as a cosmetic tool used to smooth out wrinkles, Botox is effective in blocking the chemical responsible for stimulating the sweat glands within 48 hours of injecting. Botox shots, however, are a temporary solution as the effect lasts for only about four months.

Iontophoresis is a technique that uses water to conduct a mild electrical current through the skin’s surface to block the flow of sweat. Surgery is usually the last resort for excessive sweating that does not respond to treatment, and involves the irreversible removal of the sweat glands.

Till you make up your mind about what you would like to do, make sure you replace the fluids lost through perspiration. The best way to do so is to drink water or lemonade with a little sugar and salt — make sure its fresh and not the bottled variety, which has artificial flavouring, preservatives and no health benefits at all.

Skinny cans and bottles of energy drinks promising to rev up flagging energy levels are basically supercharged soft drinks with an extra kick from caffeine in combination with other stimulants such as guarana, ginseng, gingko or taurine. Caffeine and sugar apart, some have energy-enhancers such as B vitamins and amino acids (protein). Most contain about 125 calories per 8 ounces and 20 to 30 grams of carbohydrates, which is mostly sugar, though the “lite” or sugar-free versions have zero calories. The amount of caffeine varies depending on the beverage, but the range is about 70 to 100 mg for one can.

Unlike energy drinks that have high sugar and caffeine, sports drinks are isotonic (contain the same constituents as body fluids) and are meant to replenish electrolytes, sugar, water and other nutrients lost during perspiration.

There are cheaper and yet effective ways to hydrate and recharge. Omega-3 fatty acids (available in capsules), nutritive food and lowering starch and sugar intake are more effective in optimising energy levels in the long run. The special ingredients in drinks — vitamins and exotic stimulants — also push up the price, so before paying up, consider having a glass of water and a multivitamin for the same benefits.

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