Northern cities atop steamy heap of sweatiest places

It’s no secret I hate Michigan’s extremely humid summer days. And not just because they lead to radar malfunction among the local bat population and force me to spend summers wielding a badminton racquet for protection rather than for volleying a shuttlecock over a net on my front lawn.

The most irksome part of humidity is that it causes me to sweat excessively. While you may think it disgusting to see someone perspiring like they’re harboring some kind of internal Artesian well, it’s much worse than that and assaultive to the other senses. It smells pretty rank, even when I double-layer deodorant with anti-perspirant. And there’s the added feature of it leading to dehydration.

I had never really pushed the sweating cycle to the max until the summer before my freshman year in high school, when we had two-a-day basketball practices in the two weeks before school started. Practices opened with us running a mile, followed by bench-stepping, hopping on one foot until we couldn’t stand, then running sprints. Complaining only earned us “sitting breaks” of sorts that turned out to be tortuous and differently-painful wall squats.

There just wasn’t enough water in the school’s drinking fountain (in the era before the water bottle became a permanent appendage) to re-hydrate me. And once I reached a fluid low, no amount of water and original Gatorade (the ONLY type of Gatorade available back in the day) could bring me back to the electrolyte safe zone. I became light-headed, passed out, fell down and then vomited after struggling to get back up. Much more disgusting than sweating!

Vicious cycle, and one I’ve had to diligently guard against since. I attribute much of my dehydration issues to my profuse perspiration. You’ve heard of going with the flow? Well, I produce that flow! It’s a good thing I’m not much for tears, as crying would only exacerbate it. The kind of sweating of which I speak is not triggered by heat, physical exertion, medication or anxiety, but from a condition called Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating for no apparent reason.

According to the medical literature, approximately 2-3% of the population (six to eight million people) suffers with this condition. While that puts me in good company, I’m thinking all of us extreme sweaters definitely wouldn’t want to be in one another’s company on a highly-humid summer day!

Apparently, I’m not the only one in the northern part of this great country who has issues with sweating. In July of this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration came out with its annual list of the sweatiest U.S. cities for 2017. I was downright surprised by the top-ten sweaty cities cited publicly in order of most- to least-sweaty: New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Miami, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Tampa, Houston and New Orleans.

Guess I hadn’t given much thought to one place being that much sweatier than the next. But as climate scientist Radley Horton, who studies extreme heat at Columbia University, said, “It’s not always the highest temperatures that get you. Sometimes, it’s the combination of high temperatures and humidity.” Amen, Pastor Radley. Preach it!

So while high temperatures may ground planes in Arizona, those flying in the Midwest and Northeastern North America will fly full of stinky passengers. “Fly the smelly skies!”

I picture the perpetually perky and chirpy weather girl on my favorite TV news station saying in her news flash about a hot flash, “Due to today’s heat index and sweat advisory, you might want to use extra anti-perspirant and wear a mask to mask odors if you have to venture out. Otherwise, please stay home.”

On the soaking edge of the sweat eradication revolution is the Johns Hopkins Center for Sweating Disorders in Baltimore. I’m guessing the institution’s location in the national swelter belt gave them a welter weight advantage in pioneering solutions to excessive sweating. Maybe I should make a point of vacationing there. I could drive the distance faster than you can say “overactive sympathetic nerve,” which is the cause of most excessive sweating.

Until then, I will continue to single-layer my clothing, double-layer my deodorant and anti-perspirant and keep a safe distance. There’s just no point in sweating it!


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