Sweating While Eating

Gustatory sweating, or sweating while eating, can be caused by a wide variety of different things. Some of these things can be harmless and banal, while others may be more serious.

What is gustatory sweating?

Gustatory sweating is sweating while eating, or very soon after eating. This sweating is usually most noticeable on the face, head, and neck. Depending on the cause of the sweating, it can affect the entire head or can be limited to just one side. In rare cases, this sweating can occur when one simply thinks about food.

In most cases, gustatory sweating is connected to the salivary glands. When the salivary gland is activated, so is the part of the body that produces sweat. This often occurs after a surgery or a serious injury.

Symptoms of gustatory sweating

  • facial flushing
  • sweating on the face
  • sweating on the neck
  • sweating brought on by salivation
  • sweating on one or both sides of one’s head
  • a feeling of heat in the facial area, even when eating cold foods like ice cream

What are the causes of sweating while eating?

There are many reasons that one may sweat while eating. The most common of these reasons is spicy or fiery food. Eating spicy food like hot wings or chili peppers is a shock to the body, and the body misinterprets this heat signal as something it must take action against. As the hot, spicy food heats up the body temperature, the body activates the sweat glands to help cool things down, to restore the body to a cooler, healthier state.

Here are several other reasons that eating could trigger sweating:

  • Frey’s syndrome – Frey’s syndrome is the most common cause of gustatory sweating. It occurs most often when there has been an injury to a parotid gland, the largest salivary glands in the body. If this happens, when a person begins to salivate, whether they are eating food, getting ready to eat food, or even just thinking about food, this causes the face to flush and to become sweaty. In most cases, this is due to nerve damage to the parotid gland in just one cheek, so the sweat a person experiences as a result is limited to one side of their head, the side in which the parotid is damaged.

Diabetes complications – This form of gustatory sweating is much more rare, but not unheard of. Diabetes sufferers who have problems controlling their blood sugar can experience gustatory sweating as well. In their case, the sweating is experienced on both sides of the head instead of being limited to just one side

Other medical conditions – Other chronic, long-term, or even short-term conditions can also cause one to sweat while eating. Some of these conditions include shingles, facial herpes, Parkinson’s, and cluster headaches.

“Meat sweats” – Competitors in eating competitions are often seen as having what is referred to as the “meat sweats.” This condition, most likely a variant of Frey’s syndrome, occurs when one eats much more food than the body is used to processing at one time. This phenomenon is called meat sweats due to the fact that it occurs most often when one is consuming large amounts of protein. The body then begins to work overtime to break down this protein, resulting in sweating.

Idiopathic – Idiopathic conditions are conditions that occur for seemingly no reason. Some people just simply sweat when they eat. Sometimes this is a chronic condition, other times it comes and goes, but if the reason is idiopathic, there is no underlying condition to blame.

Treatment for sweating while eating

Before treating gustatory sweating, it is important to go to a doctor to find out if there is an underlying cause. Oftentimes, treating the underlying condition is more effective at stopping the sweating than simply trying to correct the sweating itself. For example, if the gustatory sweating is a complication of diabetes, managing one’s diabetes in a more efficient and healthy way is the best course of action, and should bring an end to the gustatory sweating.

Once the condition has been officially diagnosed, gustatory sweating can be treated in several ways. The first of these is topical creams and antiperspirants. While one would most likely balk at the thought of using antiperspirant on one’s face instead of just in one’s armpits, antiperspirant can actually be a big help in reducing the amount of sweat released while eating. Topical creams and lotions specifically designed for this purpose can also be used, and may be more effective. They can be applied just like any other lotion or as a foundation under makeup and can provide long-term protection from sweat in a way that is less noticeable than deodorant or antiperspirant. Some of these creams can even help to stop the problem at the source, meaning that they bring, not just relief, but something more like a cure.

Another, more drastic way to treat gustatory sweating is to have Botox injections in the facial area. This form of treatment can last for years at a time, and can very effectively put an end to facial sweating. However, this method is not without its risks. Botox is effectively a type of surgery, so there is always a chance of side effects or a reaction. It is highly recommended that one consult with a Botox administrator who has worked with patients with gustatory sweating before, so they are more able to administer the treatment properly and provide instructions for proper care after the visit.

Conclusion

Sweating while eating can cause a lot of physical and emotional distress. Sufferers of this condition often find it difficult to socialize or to go out to eat with romantic partners due to embarrassment. Fortunately for them, though, this condition is highly treatable. While it is not recommended to treat this condition on your own without knowing if there is an underlying condition involved, a consultation with a doctor can be a great first step on one’s road to recovery. Doctors can prescribe various creams or antiperspirants that can help or can even give one more information about more long-lasting treatments like Botox. Either way, gustatory sweaters have nothing to fear, as this is a condition that can be well-managed or even cured altogether.