Researchers from the University of Cincinnati have developed a sensor that will measure the concentration of chemicals from sweat. The sweat sensors allow doctors and researchers to monitor the fluctuations in the concentration of chemical markers. Once the technology matures, scientists hope that their invention could replace blood testing in a wide range of situations. While blood tests are considered to be the standard for measuring chemical quantities in laboratories, the procedure is highly invasive. The laborious nature of blood extraction also prevents multiple measurements of chemicals found in the blood. Tears and saliva are already used by doctors to gather information about the state of bodily functions but they are not as effective as sweat. However, producing sufficient amounts of sweat is quite difficult since it may involve strenuous exercise or exposure to increased ambient temperatures. Both of those procedures are impractical and may even be unsafe for certain patients, the researchers claim.
To circumvent that problem, Cincinnati-based scientists have found a way to make a person sweat continuously without the need for impractical solutions. The researchers developed a bandage-sized sensor that uses both carbachol gel and low electric current to stimulate the target glands, forcing the tissues to produce sweat even if the subject is relaxed. Another important feature of the sensor is that it can predict the amount of sweat that a person produces. This helps in understanding the actual amount of hormones and chemicals that the sensor detects.
Using sweat over other bodily fluids has numerous benefits. As the former is continuously produced by the body, doctors may utilize it to measure changes in the concentration of medicine and other chemicals within the individual over a certain period of time. The technology can be used for at least five hours straight, as the carbachol gel can stimulate the glands for the entirety of that period. Practical applications of the device include monitoring patients with heart conditions, checking for dehydration in athletes, and detecting the concentration of prescription drugs in the bloodstream. It is also useful in checking the reaction of a person to stressful conditions, especially in situations where blood extraction is impractical or impossible, the researchers claim.