You expect to be a sweaty mess when you’re working out, but what about when you’re sitting in an all-staff meeting? Or simply strolling from your office to your buddy’s down the hall?
Regular sweating—say, you’re in the middle of a deadlift session—is one of the ways our body keeps us from overheating, according to Robert Segal, M.D., founder of the Medical Offices of Manhattan.
By keeping our body temperature within one or two degrees of 98.6, it helps to maintain a balance in our hormones and bodily fluids.
The amount you sweat depends on what kind of stress you’re placing on your body. For example, you sweat more when running than walking at a slow pace because your body temperature goes up faster when you’re using more energy, Dr. Segal says. So you need to be cooled off more to get your body temp back to what it should be.
But what about if the amount you’re sweating doesn’t match the stress of the situation? That could be a sign of hyperhidrosis, a common condition marked by excessive sweating, according to Lance Brown, M.D., a surgical and cosmetic dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at NYU School of Medicine.
There are two types of hyperhidrosis, he notes. Primary focal hyperhidrosis is seen the most, and occurs in generally healthy people—it manifests as excessive sweat in the palms, soles and underarms, where there are higher numbers of sweat glands.
The other type, secondary generalized hyperhidrosis is less common, and is due to either a systemic disease or neurologic disorder. It can also happen as a side effect of medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for depression or opioids. Conditions that can raise your risk of hyperhidrosis include thyroid disease, diabetes, certain tumors, obesity, and even mercury poisoning, says Dr. Brown.
Here are five ways to tell if your pools of perspiration are actually signs of hyperhidrosis.
Related: The Quickest Way to Stop Sweating After a Workout