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Old 07-30-2008, 05:15 PM
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Why do I sweat profusely/grow numb when my blood sugar crashes?

Not looking for medical advice here; I'm simply curious.

So I have diabetes, as some of you may know, which I manage through medication, diet, and exercise. Earlier today my right thigh got a pins & needles sensation, which is a sure sign that I'm about to go low. Not being an idiot, I checked my blood sugar first, and, sure enough, I was under 70. Naturally I went to lunch early.

This got me to thinking. Some of the symptoms of hypoglycemia--the confusion, the trembling, the weaknesss--make perfect sense from a body-running-low-on-fuel perspective. But why do I experience the numbness when I go moderately low? Why do I experirnece the profuse sweating when I'm extremey low?

Any thoughts?
Old 07-30-2008, 05:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skald the Rhymer
This got me to thinking. Some of the symptoms of hypoglycemia--the confusion, the trembling, the weaknesss--make perfect sense from a body-running-low-on-fuel perspective. But why do I experience the numbness when I go moderately low? Why do I experirnece the profuse sweating when I'm extremey low?

Any thoughts?
The sweating tends to happen as a prelude sign of Shock, but it's a natural response by the body in an attempt to restore equilibrium (usually though for thermoregulation). But anytime the body's equilibrium is disrupted, one of the easiest signs will be sweating. With the Hypoglycemia, we have lower blood sugar than normal, so there is a higher content of fluids in the blood than there is sugars/solute.

So if your blood has excess fluids, and less solutes/sugar- the equilibrium isn't there. The body is going to try to find methods of reducing the fluid levels, in an attempt to reach homeostasis. This is simply since it can't just increase the solutes as quickly- until you introduce more sugar into the bloodstream, ie: eat (in which case you'd fix it from the other end- increase the sugar in the blood, and the body then focuses not on the fluid portion but the solute levels instead).
So to sum up- the sweating is there because of a disruption of the blood's homeostasis, and is a sign of the body trying to compensate for it.

The numbness, well that's a sign usually caused by decreased blood flow to the nerves of whichever area, and so that's probably what's causing that sensation, but alas I'm not as well versed on why that would happen in this case (perhaps there's something IN the quality of blood that's reaching the nerves- ie: the nerves need the sugars to fuel their internal processes. So if the blood that's reaching it DOESN'T have the proper levels sugars, the nerves are unable to properly fire, and thus the "pins and needles" sensation??)

I'm not a professional, and only consider myself a student of Biology and the human body, so I'll defer to a more qualified person to answer the Q better than my hypotheses.
Old 07-30-2008, 10:22 PM
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Type 2 diabetic here. I have never experienced numbness as a result of hypoglycemia, and the sweating is usually limited to my hands ... cold and clammy. Do you experience general numbness and sweating, or just in certain body parts? And the shaking also starts with the hands. I've had numbers down into the 30s, and never experienced these symptoms throughout the body.

But hunger . . . a craving for carbs that doesn't quit, even when my glucose is back up.
Old 07-30-2008, 10:45 PM
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No offense, RoOsh, but that answer is crap.

When your blood sugar drops, your body will attempt to bring it back up with an andrenergic surge (basically increased adrenalin). This causes a variety of symptoms including heart racing, sweating, a feeling of nervousness, etc.

Actually, there is a really great description on Wikipedia (of course): Hypoglycemia

One of the considerations in patients with both diabetes and hypertension is avoiding beta blockers which will blunt the symptoms of hypoglycemia so that the patient doesn't know he's gotten low.

Last edited by USCDiver; 07-30-2008 at 10:46 PM.
Old 07-30-2008, 10:52 PM
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There are two classes of hypoglycemic symptoms - those due to lack of sugar in the brain (called neuroglycopenia), and those due to the adrenalin response (your body makes adrenalin when the sugar is low) (called adrenergic).

Symptoms from lack of sugar in the brain (neuroglycopenic symptoms):
- fatigue
- visual disturbances
- any "focal" neurologic symptom (e.g. inability to speak, paralysis of the right or left side, numbness on the right or left side, etc.)
- confusion
- seizures
- death (!)

Symptoms from the adrenalin response (adrenergic symptoms):
- tremor
- sweating
- palpitations
- headache

These lists are incomplete, but give a fair sense of things.

Last edited by KarlGauss; 07-30-2008 at 10:52 PM.
Old 07-30-2008, 11:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panache45
I've had numbers down into the 30s..(clip).
Wow.

Type II here, too. No medication--just diet and exercise (and dropping 30+ lbs) and I stay around 90 - 110. I start to feel 'weird' at about 70, and pretty damn bad at 60.

A blood sugar of 30 and, well, I'm pretty sure I'd go nighty-night...if not worse.
Old 07-31-2008, 12:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USCDiver
No offense, RoOsh, but that answer is crap.

Damn! Ah well, consider my ignorance fought.
And I was looking at those wikipedia articles too trying to figure it out.

Side Q though: did this stuff have anything to do with symptoms of Shock?
That was my first instinct to lean towards the signs as being similar to that by shock, but i figured against it after reading up on the Wikipedia articles.
Old 07-31-2008, 12:55 AM
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Not really, the term 'shock' in a medical sense refers to low blood pressure from a variety of causes (ie hemorrhagic shock, septic shock, anaphylactic shock, etc).

This is unrelated to experiencing 'shock' from seeing something bad happen (ie scared shitless).

Once again, Wikipedia has a good summary: Shock (medical)
Old 07-31-2008, 12:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USCDiver
Not really, the term 'shock' in a medical sense refers to low blood pressure from a variety of causes (ie hemorrhagic shock, septic shock, anaphylactic shock, etc).

This is unrelated to experiencing 'shock' from seeing something bad happen (ie scared shitless).

Once again, Wikipedia has a good summary: Shock (medical)
Yeah, that's why I was ruling it out in the end, reading up on Wikipedia, I just couldn't match the Shocks to the things I was thinking of here.

Ah well, thanks again for fighting my ignorance, and looks like I'll have to start hitting those books harder!
Old 07-31-2008, 11:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rysdad
Wow.

Type II here, too. No medication--just diet and exercise (and dropping 30+ lbs) and I stay around 90 - 110. I start to feel 'weird' at about 70, and pretty damn bad at 60.

A blood sugar of 30 and, well, I'm pretty sure I'd go nighty-night...if not worse.

My dad's type I but doesn't really take care of himself; eats whatever, doesn't monitor his blood sugar, just injects himself with what he estimates is right for what he eats.

I know for a fact he's had blood sugar at least at 34, but that was when we were able to rouse him. There have been a couple of times where we had to call paramedics to help (can't make him drink orange juice if he can't wake up).

Obviously I don't know how it feels, but he acts like he's incredibly drunk, hallucinates*, he has painful tingling in his hands (circulation issue, most likely), becomes aggressive (which, combined with jerky low-blood sugar coordination, isn't fun) and sweats like he just ran a marathon.


*
- Drink the juice
- :: wide eyed stare :: I can't!
- Why not?
- They'll fire me for this bullshit!
- It's juice, you're not at work
- Didn't you see that shit with that one car?
etc.

Sometimes playing into the hallucination will work, ("yeah, it's comPLETE bullshit, dad, but they changed the rule and you HAVE to drink it or you'll get fired now.").
Old 07-31-2008, 12:20 PM
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The lowest I've seen has been 5.

The lowest in someone who lived was probably closer to 15.
Old 07-31-2008, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rysdad
A blood sugar of 30 and, well, I'm pretty sure I'd go nighty-night...if not worse.
The last time I fell into the 30s, I grabbed the first thing available, a sugar bowl, and was literally eating handfuls of sugar. It was a totally awful experience which I have no intention of repeating. I've never actually passed out from hypoglycemia, which is a good thing, since I live alone. I'm seriously thinking of getting one of those "I've fallen and can't get up" alarms . . . not just for this problem.
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