Many diabetics quite often experience times when they sweat too much or too little. People in general sweat for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons are normal and some are not. While sweating is normal, excessive amounts of the same can be a sign of low blood sugar or a damaged nervous system in people with diabetes.
Sweat is a natural response to physical or emotional stress. But excessive sweating can often signal something is not right. Extremely low blood sugar triggers a fight-or-flight response, which leads to the release of hormones that increase sweating.
Prolonged high blood sugar levels can lead to loss of nerve function, also known as diabetic neuropathy. If nerves that control sweat glands are damaged, they may send the wrong message to sweat glands, or sometimes none. Such situations can cause either excessive sweating or no sweating at all.
The Role of Hypoglycemia in Sweating
Hypoglycemia is a condition of abnormally low blood sugar levels. A level lower than 70 mg/dL is considered hypoglycemic. Many medications especially insulin, can cause a dip in sugar levels. This happens more often when the dosage of medication is higher. When sugar levels dip too low, the body starts taking steps to raise levels. This leads to the release of a hormone called epinephrine(adrenaline). Adrenaline stimulates the release of glucagon (a type of glucose) from the liver. This hormone also makes tissues less sensitive to insulin to help keep glucose in circulation. Adrenaline can lead to varying side effects, including excessive or inappropriate sweating.
Some signs of hypoglycemia include:
- Sweating or chills
- Rapid heartbeat
- Blurred vision
- Intense cramps
- Lack of coordination
- Extreme emotions
- Night sweats
If any of the above symptoms become severe, you should consult your healthcare provider immediately. The best way is to manage blood sugar levels before things get out of hand.
Tip: If you sense any of these symptoms, test your sugar levels immediately using a glucometer. Once detected consult a doctor.
The Inability to Sweat
Anhidrosis is the term used to describe an inability to sweat. With anhidrosis, the sweat glands do not get the signal to sweat, even when they should.
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Some symptoms can include:
- Trouble staying warm or cool
- Little or almost no perspiration
- Becoming overheated after minor physical tasks
- Facial flushing
- Muscle cramp
- The inability to maintain a consistently healthy body temperature can cause serious health complications, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
It is important to watch out for these symptoms and in case you find something is not right with your body, get in touch with your physician to discuss treatment.