Sweating is a normal bodily function and normally occurs when the body needs to cool down. If you’re working out or in a hot climate, sweating enables the body to reduce its temperature and can prevent illness or overheating.
However, there are times in which the body will sweat when you least expect it to. If you’re asking, why do I sweat when I eat, there’s a good chance that you regularly sweat when you’re consuming food.
Sweating when eating can be uncomfortable and distressing for the people affected. If you’re consuming food outside of your home, you may be concerned about body odor, which is commonly caused by stale sweat. If you’re eating at home, you may be able to take a shower after eating, in order to remove the sweat, but this can be inconvenient.
In some cases, people may develop additional skin problems if they are forced to wash or shower after every meal. While people often do this in attempt to stay clean and prevent sweat from remaining on their skin, excess washing can lead to dry skin. As a result, people who sweat when they eat may be prone to other skin problems.
There are many reasons why people sweat when they eat and these may include:
Although sweating when eating isn’t always typical, it’s not always uncommon. Also known as gustatory sweating, people may sweat if they eat particularly hot or spicy foods. If the food increases your body temperature, your body will attempt to cool down by sweating.
If you sweat when consuming food, regardless of what you’re eating, it’s most likely due to damage to your parotid gland or the nerves surrounding it. Parotid glands produce saliva and are governed by the auriculotemporal nerve. If this nerve is damaged, it can attach itself to the sweat glands. Rather than causing the parotid gland to produce saliva when you eat, the auriculotemporal nerve prompts the sweat gland to produce sweat.
As well as happening when you’re eating, this type of gustatory sweating can occur when you think about food or when you are preparing to eat. Depending on whether one or both of the parotid glands are affected by damage, the sweating may only occur on one side of your face and neck. This normally indicates which parotid gland has been damaged.
Sweating while you eat can also be a complication of another condition, such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, shingles and/or cluster headaches. Although gustatory sweating is not a common symptom of these conditions, it can sometimes occur alongside these illnesses. If patients have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, shingles, cluster headaches or diabetes and experience gustatory sweating or increased sweating, they should contact their physician and report the change in their symptoms.
Although there are treatments for gustatory sweating, the effectiveness may depend on what’s causing the individual’s symptoms. Some of the most common treatments for gustatory sweating include:
If the parotid gland or surrounding nerve structure has been damaged and is causing gustatory sweating, surgery is not usually a viable option. In fact, surgery on the parotid glands often causes the auriculotemporal nerve to impact the sweat glands and can be a primary cause of gustatory sweating. Instead, other forms of treatment are usually used if the individual’s condition has been caused by damage to their glands or nerves.
Topical solutions containing propantheline bromide, clonidine, oxybutynin chloride and/or glycopyrrolate may be used to reduce sweating while eating. When applied to the face or forehead, these solutions can reduce sweating and alleviate the problem completely. However, patients should not attempt to use these solutions without medical guidance and should only use them in accordance with their physician’s instructions.
Similarly, some individuals resort to using antiperspirants in order to try and minimize sweating while they eat. As the skin on the face is generally more sensitive than the skin under the arms, it is advisable to use a specialist facial antiperspirant and to test it on a small area of skin before applying it fully.
If gustatory sweating has been caused by another medical condition, such as diabetes or shingles, patients should consult their physician. Additional symptoms or a change in existing symptoms may indicate that their original medical condition is progressing in some way. Their physician may modify their treatment which could, in turn, alleviate gustatory sweating. Alternatively, the patient’s physician may be able to determine which topical solutions or antiperspirants are suitable for the individual to use alongside their other medications.
Injections of the botulinum toxin can also be beneficial for individuals who suffer from gustatory sweating. More commonly known as Botox injections, these can be used to paralyze certain muscles, nerves, and glands, thus limiting their effectiveness. By preventing the sweat glands from working properly, Botox injections can reduce or limit the amount of sweat produced. However, individuals who wish to undergo these injections to reduce gustatory sweating should seek advice from an experienced physician, rather than a cosmetic specialist.
Some forms of treatment do aim to prevent gustatory sweating, but they may not provide a permanent solution. Botox injections are typically effective for a period of a few months, whilst topical solutions should stop you sweating while you eat but may need to be applied regularly.
Whilst it may not be possible to prevent gustatory sweating in all circumstances, using approved treatments can minimize the problem and can help to ensure that you no longer sweat during or after a meal.